Nobel Peace Prize 'should have been mine', jokes Syria's Assad

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Turkey's Halk TV in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency Sana on Oct 4, 2013. Mr Assad (above) has jokingly said he should have been aw
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad speaks during an interview with Turkey's Halk TV in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency Sana on Oct 4, 2013. Mr Assad (above) has jokingly said he should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper reported on Monday, Oct 14, 2013. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIRUT (AFP) - Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has jokingly said he should have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, a pro-Damascus Lebanese newspaper reported on Monday.

The prize, which was given to the global chemical weapons watchdog on Friday, "should have been mine", Mr Assad said, according to Al-Akhbar newspaper.

Mr Assad made the remark "jokingly", the daily said, as he commented on the award on Friday of Nobel Peace Prize to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which is working in Syria to destroy the Assad regime's massive chemical arsenal by mid-2014.

Al-Akhbar also reported that Mr Assad proposed in 2003 that all countries in the region should hand over all weapons of mass destruction. But the newspaper did not say when Mr Assad made the comments about the Nobel.

The OPCW and the United Nations have had a team of 60 experts and support staff in Syria since Oct 1, while the civil war rages on. The team started its work after a breakthrough UN Security Council resolution last month ordering Syria's chemical stockpile destroyed.

The resolution came after a chemical attack in Damascus province on Aug 21 that killed hundreds of people. It also followed US threats to strike Mr Assad's regime.

Syria's war broke out after the army and security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against anti-Assad protests that erupted in March 2011. More than 115,000 people have been killed in the conflict so far, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog.