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South Africa opposes Syria strike

The South African government on Thursday hit out at what it called “dangerous rhetoric” pointing to Western military action in Syria, and called on all sides to negotiate.

The G20 member said it “is alarmed at the latest escalation” in the Syria conflict and condemned “the use of chemical weapons”.

“South Africa is concerned by the dangerous rhetoric pointing to the possibility of a military intervention,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

South Africa, the continent’s largest economy, has largely opposed non-UN Western military intervention since becoming a fully democratic state in 1994, with the fall of apartheid.

Pretoria said it did “not believe that bombing the already suffering people and crumbling infrastructure of Syria, will contribute to a sustainable solution”.

“The outcome of such an action is unpredictable and will only worsen the conflict.”

“It will ultimately be the people of Syria who pay the price, whilst those participating in the military intervention will return to safety far away from the crisis.”

South Africa has long sought a seat on the United Nations Security Council, but has irked Western powers with its stance on Zimbabwe and Libya — where it backed authoritarian rulers’ bids to remain in power.

In recent years South Africa has moved to deepen ties with China and Russia, long-time supporters of the ruling ANC during the anti-apartheid struggle.