DAMASCUS, Syria – President Bashar Assad (search) assailed the U.S. invasion of Iraq and ridiculed its accomplishments Thursday, even as his country offered surprise support for American-proposed resolution on Iraq in the U.N. Security Council (search).
The vote by Syria, the only Arab country on the council, came despite tension between Washington and Damascus. The United States has accused Syria of allowing fighters to slip into Iraq to join forces attacking the coalition.
"The world has discovered that the war of 'liberation' of Iraq has liberated the Iraqi citizen of the state, the institutions, the sovereignty, dignity, food, water and electricity," Assad told the Organization of the Islamic Conference summit in Malaysia.
Syria borders Iraq and strongly opposed the invasion of a fellow Arab state.
"Everyone, without exception, has discovered that the excuses which led to war lacked credibility," the president said, referring to the U.S.-led coalition's failure to find weapons of mass destruction.
Washington also accuses Syria of harboring terrorists and seeking weapons of mass destruction. Syria denies the charges and says the Palestinians on its territory are not terrorists.
Washington angered Syria earlier this month when President Bush expressed support for Israel's airstrike on an alleged Palestinian militant camp near Damascus (search).
In his speech, Assad said Syria wants to see "Iraq regain its sovereignty, independence and freedom as fast as possible."
He said that could only be achieved by the withdrawal of the coalition forces according to a specific timetable, which would coincide with the election of a national government.
He added the United Nations had to play an active role in helping to administer Iraqi affairs and reconstruction.
Meanwhile, Syria's military chief, Gen. Hassan Turkmany (search), on Thursday urged his forces to be ready to respond to any possible Israeli attack, but it still appeared unlikely Syrian planned any armed response to an Israeli airstrike on its territory earlier this month. The remarks came in a speech reported by the official news agency SANA.