A top aide to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday hailed as "historic" Russian and Chinese vetoes of a UN resolution against his regime, accusing the West of indirectly supporting "armed gangs."
"This is a historical day that Russia and China as nations are standing for the people and against injustices," presidential adviser Buthaina Shaaban told AFP in an interview.
"The United States has used the veto 50 times against the rights of the Palestinian people in their life, in their dignity and in their land," she said.
"I think that all the Syrians are happy that now there are other powers in the world to stand against hegemony, against military interference in the affairs of countries and people ...
"The veto that Russia and China have used ... is a veto that stands with the Syrian people and gives the time for us to enforce and enhance reforms," she added.
Nine countries voted late Tuesday in favour of the draft resolution which had called for "targeted measures" if Assad pursues his clampdown, which the UN says has left at least 2,700 people dead.
Russia and China voted against, killing the resolution because of their veto powers as council permanent members.
South Africa, India, Brazil and Lebanon abstained, reaffirming a divide in the 15-member body since NATO launched air strikes in Libya using UN resolutions to justify the action.
Shaaban warned that sanctions against her country only encouraged "armed gangs" which Syria blames for the bloodshed.
"Western powers by imposing sanctions on Syria and by submitting such draft resolutions to punish Syria or to intervene militarily are indirectly aiding the armed gangs to continue with their war against our way of life."
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She charged that armed opposition groups were seeking to ignite sectarian warfare in the secular country.
They were "killing people mostly on a sectarian basis in order to ignite a war between the sects," she said. "This is the scenario of Iraq, exactly what happened in Iraq when it was first occupied."
She also tried to belittle the opposition in exile.
"This opposition which met in Istanbul and formed the National Council are mostly Muslim Brothers, and I don't agree with any opposition who want foreign interference," she said.
"They know nothing about the country. They are not living here, they are not in touch with reality or with the people. The people of Syria choose their own representatives in Syria, neither in Istanbul nor anywhere else."
She dismissed a warning from Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of unilateral sanctions.
"I really feet sorry that Turkey is taking stands ... on fabrications of the media," Shaaban said. "I would like our Turkish friends ... to reconsider the position because their position is not built on fact."
On a visit to Pretoria, Erdogan said on Wednesday that his government would announce a package of sanctions against neighbouring Syria despite the failure of the UN draft resolution.
"The Syrian administration should have received a warning," he said of the Security Council vote.
Shaaban insisted the reform process in Syria needs time.
"The reform process is ongoing. We are going to get there but I just ask to Chinese friends: How long did the change in China take ... to a more democratic system?" she asked.
"We have been here for six months ... We deserve more time."