Fiery Chavez slams West over Syria
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Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez lashed out at Washington and its European allies on Sunday over the Syrian crisis, insisting they were preparing the groundwork to topple President Bashar al-Assad just like they worked to “assassinate” Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The firebrand leftist leader of one of the world's top oil producers has been criticising Western intervention in the Middle East at least since 2000, when he showed support for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein on a visit to Baghdad.
“The United States and its European allies are intensifying their offensive against Syria, infiltrating terrorists to generate violence, bloodshed and death, just like they did in Libya at the beginning of this year,” Chavez told supporters at a rally in downtown Caracas.
“They managed with bombs not only to topple the Libyan government but to destroy that country and assassinate Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.. and now they are taking aim at Syria,” said Chavez.
The bald Venezuelan leader, 57, who spoke for about an hour at his first open-air public rally since he had surgery in June to remove a malignant tumour, also decried the Arab League's decision “against the government of Syria”.
On Saturday the Arab League announced Syria's imminent suspension, drawing international praise but sparking mob attacks on foreign embassies in Damascus.
Chavez had earlier referred to Assad and the late Libyan leader as “brothers”.
Since March Assad's regime has been trying to suppress a popular revolt, in which more than 3 500 people have been killed, according to UN figures.
In October, the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Cuba led a delegation of leftist Latin American countries to Syria to meet with Assad in a show of support.
After several rounds of chemotherapy, mostly in Cuba, Chavez claimed last month that he was cancer-free. - AFP