DAMASCUS, Syria — Syria’s increasingly isolated president sent a letter calling for help from leaders of five nations at an economic meeting Wednesday in South Africa to help end his country’s civil war.
Bashar Assad’s appeal to Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa came a day after the Arab League endorsed Syria’s Western-backed opposition coalition, allowing it to take the country’s seat at a summit in Doha, Qatar. The move drew strong condemnation from Damascus, which warned it will take “appropriate measures” to defend its sovereignty.
Attempts to end Syria’s 2-year-old conflict through peaceful means have failed to make progress. The opposition, including the main Syrian National Coalition, says it will accept nothing less than Assad’s departure from power while Assad’s government has vowed to continue the battle until the rebel forces — which it refers to as terrorists — are crushed.
“This requires a clear international will to dry up the sources of terrorism and stop its funding and arming,” Assad said in the letter, which was carried by Syrian state media on Wednesday. It was addressed to the leaders at the BRICS forum, which was started in 2009 amid the economic meltdown to chart a new and more equitable world economic order.
Assad said Syria is subjected to “acts of terrorism backed by Arab, regional and Western nations” and asked the leaders to “work for an immediate cessation of violence that would guarantee the success of the political solution.”
The opposition’s ascension to the Arab League further demonstrated the extent of the regime’s isolation two years into a civil war that the U.N. says has killed an estimated 70,000 people.
In a further show of solidarity with anti-Assad forces, the summit in Qatar endorsed the “right of each state” to provide the Syrian people and the rebel Free Syrian Army with “all necessary means to ... defend themselves, including military means.”
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