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Syria in 'state of war,' preparing for expected attack

August 28, 2013|By Patrick J. McDonnell and Nabih Bulos
  • Syrian ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari departs after speaking to reporters outside the U.N. Security Council in New York. "We are in a state of war right now, preparing ourselves for the worst scenario," he said.
Syrian ambassador to the United Nations Bashar Jaafari departs after speaking… (Mario Tama / Getty Images )

BEIRUT — Syria is in a “state of war” and was bracing for U.S.-led attacks, the Syrian ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday.

“We are in a state of war right now, preparing ourselves for the worst scenario,” envoy Bashar Jaafari told reporters in New York. “What would you ask a government in this situation to do, unless to take the necessary precautions?”

He declined to provide details and said officials in Syria were managing the situation.

With the U.S. and allies said to be preparing a missile strike against Syria, there have been unconfirmed reports from opposition activists of evacuations of military and security buildings around Damascus. Reports in the Arab media have also suggested that some residents were leaving the capital, headed for the Lebanese border or the Syrian coast, which has been relatively peaceful during the more than two-year conflict.

On Wednesday, Jaafari said, Syria formally requested that the U.N. inspections team in Syria expand its mandate to investigate three recent incidents in which Syrian soldiers outside Damascus were allegedly targeted by rebels with toxic gas. The purported attacks came after the alleged Aug. 21 poison gas bombardment that the opposition said left hundreds of civilians dead.

The U.N. inspectors are currently investigating the Aug. 21 incident. Opposition activists have blamed government troops, while Syrian officials have said rebels were responsible.

The United States, Britain and France, major backers of the Syrian opposition, have charged that the government gassed its own people and that a forceful international response was required. Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, has said that the likely culprits were rebels seeking to discredit the government and draw international intervention.

In his comments, Jaafari called any poison gas attack a "moral obscenity," employing the same phrase used on Monday by U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry.


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Times staff writer McDonnell reported from Beirut and special correspondent Bulos from Amman, Jordan.

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