Chavez backs Qaddafi, Assad

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Saturday reiterated his support for ousted Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi and embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, calling them "brothers."

"I ask God for the life of our brother Qaddafi... No one knows where Qaddafi is, I think he went to the desert," Chavez told official television VTV.

The 57-year-old Venezuelan leader has defended Qaddafi since the start of the uprising against his regime in February, accusing NATO of using the conflict to gain control over Libya's oil.

The whereabouts of Qaddafi, who ruled the north African nation with an iron fist for more than four decades, are unknown.

Chavez has refused to recognize Libya's new interim leadership, ridiculing its UN representative Ibrahim Dabbashi as a "puppet" and a "dummy."

The Venezuelan leader said he had spoken by telephone late Friday with Assad, who is fighting "an aggression from Yankee imperialists and their European allies."

"Our solidarity is with the Syrian people, with President Bashar," he added.

Foreign ministers of the eight member states in the leftist ALBA bloc plan to travel to Syria to prevent what Chavez called "the madness of war by [US] President [Barack] Obama and his imperial allies to destroy the Syrian people."

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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