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Syria builds park in honor of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung

A Syrian official at the opening ceremony praised Kim as a "historic ruler and leader, famous for his struggle to liberate and build his country."

By Elizabeth Shim
Syria builds park in honor of North Korea founder Kim Il Sung
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with Syrian envoys in Pyongyang in 2013. Military ties between the two countries have strengthened in the last several years. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun/Yonhap

DAMASCUS, Syria, Sept. 1 (UPI) -- Syria's government paid tribute to North Korea founder Kim Il Sung during a ceremony for a new park in Damascus named in his honor.

As battles raged between the Islamic State and rebels in southern Damascus, Syria's Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad and North Korean envoys attended the opening ceremony Monday for a 9,000-square-meter park that was built on top of recently bulldozed homes, Al Jazeera reported.

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Mikdad praised Kim as a "historic ruler and leader, famous for his struggle to liberate and build his country."

"For this reason, he deserves to be honored in Syria," the Syrian official said.

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Mikdad also said North Korea has stood with Syria against terrorism. The Independent reported Mikdad said in statement North Korea represented an example for Syria in its own civil war and the North Korean envoy said he was confident Syria could "achieve the final victory in its fight against aggression."

North Korea's Ambassador to Syria Jang Myong said the park is "an expression of the respect and love that Syria, as a party, a government and a people have for the great leader Kim Il Sung."

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Jang blamed the United States for the violence in the region and said Syria's conflict is the result of a U.S. conspiracy "to bring down the legitimate and independent government and to exert a monopoly over the Middle East."

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A Syrian state news agency reported the park and its commemoration were a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of North Korea's Workers' Party.

North Korea and Syria have cultivated military ties for many years, and Pyongyang helped Syria build a nuclear facility destroyed by an Israeli air raid in 2007.

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