20:51 04.09.2013

Foreign Ministry rejects Syrian diplomat's statement on Ukrainians' fighting in Syria on opposition's side

The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine has rejected a statement made recently by Syrian Ambassador to Ukraine Mohamed Said Akil on the alleged participation of Ukrainian citizens in the Syrian conflict on the side of the armed opposition.

The ministry also said that it was surprised to hear the ambassador's statement.

"Ukraine has many times declared its support for the settlement of the conflict in Syrian by exclusively political and diplomatic means. The Foreign ministry thinks that Akil's statement was unacceptable and groundless, as well as inconsistent with the character of relations between the two states. We think that such a statement must be confirmed by official trustworthy facts, which are absent in this case," the ministry's Information Policy Department said.

The ministry also noted that its position has been expressed to the Syrian ambassador on Wednesday.

"We have an official note from the Syrian Foreign Ministry to a request from our Embassy in Damascus, which reads that they also have no information regarding participation of Ukrainian citizens in military operations," Radio Liberty cited Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis as saying.

As reported, Syria's Ambassador to Ukraine Mohamed Said Akil stated that Ukrainian citizens are fighting on the side of anti-government forces in Syria.

"There are representatives of 83 countries, including Ukraine, among the terrorists," the diplomat said at a press conference in Kyiv, when asked whether recent reports saying that Ukrainian citizens, including Crimean Tatars, were involved in military operations in Syria were trustworthy.

The diplomat, however, did not mention the number of Ukrainians involved in the Syrian conflict. He said that the militants usually burn their dead, and it is difficult to collect such statistics.

Earlier, Chairman of the Mejlis of the Crimean Tatar people, MP Mustafa Jemilev said that he had been informed that several Crimean Tatars had gone to Syria to fight on the opposition's side.

Jemilev stressed that the Mejlis disapproved of their departure for Syria and called on Crimean Tatars not to travel to the country.

He added that one should not speak about mass involvement of Ukrainian Tatars with the Syrian conflicts, as only several people had gone, of their own free will.

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