|Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad|
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has reiterated support for his Syrian counterpart Bashar al-Assad and slammed the West for pressuring Damascus and disrespecting the sovereignty of Syria.
"We continue lamenting the aggressions against Syria and the pressure of the United States government and many European countries, failing to recognize the sovereignty of a people such as the Syrian people," Chavez said on Sunday in his first televised address since undergoing cancer surgery in the Cuban capital Havana.
"From here [Havana], we send our solidarity to the Syrian people and to President Bashar Al-Assad," he added.
He was accompanied during the speech by various government ministers and his older brother Adan Chavez.
Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March last year. Hundreds of people, including security forces, have been killed in the turmoil.
While the West and the Syrian opposition accuse the government of the killings, Damascus blames ''outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist groups'' for the unrest, stating that it is being orchestrated from abroad.
Assad said on February 20 that “some foreign countries” are fueling the year-long turmoil in Syria by supporting and funding “armed terrorist groups fighting against the government.”