UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ The Syrian government on Tuesday accused U.S.Senator John McCain, former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner and two others of entering the country illegally.
Syria's U.N. Ambassador Bashar Ja'afari said in identical letters to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council circulated Tuesday that McCain, Kouchner, former Kuwaiti Parliament member Walid al-Tabtaba'iand former U.S. ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith are among the prominent figures and journalists who violated Syria's sovereignty by entering the country without visas.
The letter said Syria "holds the governments of the states of which the sepersons are nationals fully responsible for the violations'' of Syrian sovereignty.
Syria called on the secretary-general and the Security Council "to put pressure on those governments to take immediately the necessary measures against their nationals who enter Syrian territory illegally.''
The Syrian government also holds the governments of those states fully responsible for threatening the territorial integrity of Syria and for dealing with non-state armed groups and designated terrorist groups,'' the letter said.
The nearly four-year Syrian conflict has claimed over 200,000 lives,displaced a third of Syria's population, and nurtured many armed opposition groups including the Islamic State extremist group, which now rules over vasts waths of Syria and neighboring Iraq.
According to the letter, McCain entered Syria in June 2013 and met with members of terrorist groups including leaders of the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
In response, McCain said "it is a sad but unsurprising truth'' that President Bashar Assad's regime "is less concerned with its massacre of more than 200,000 men, women and children than it is my visit with those brave Syrians fighting for their freedom and dignity.''
"The fact that the international community has done virtually nothing to bring down this terrible regime despite its atrocities is a stain on our collective moral conscience,'' McCain said in a statement.
The Syrian letter said al-Tabtaba'I, the former Kuwaiti lawmaker, entered the country in September 2013 and "provided money and arms to terrorists in Syria and took part in combat with them.''
Kouchner entered Syria last month and "visited a number of Syrian citieswithout the consent or knowledge of the Syrian government,'' the letter said.Galbraith also entered Syria last month "accompanied by three Americanpolitical and military leaders,'' it said.