News / Middle East

Obama Renews Call for Assad Departure

President Barack Obama meets with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington,  April 23, 2013.
President Barack Obama meets with Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani of Qatar in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, April 23, 2013.
President Barack Obama has renewed his determination to achieve a political transition in Syria, and the departure of President Bashar al-Assad.  The remarks, after talks with the visiting Emir of Qatar, came as the issue of Syrian chemical weapons remained high in the headlines.  

President Obama said Syria was among issues that he and Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani discussed in their Oval Office talks.

"We have been cooperating closely with Qatar and other countries in seeking to bring about an end to the slaughter that is taking place there, the removal of President Assad who has shown himself to have no regard for his own people and to strengthen an opposition that can bring about a democratic Syria that represents all people and respects their rights, regardless of their ethnicity or their religious affiliations," said Obama.

Sitting with the Qatar leader,  Obama said he was pleased that in coming months the U.S. will be stepping up support for Syria's opposition forces, and "closely coordinating" strategies to bring about "a more peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis."

The U.S. recently announced another $123 million in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition coalition, a doubling of aid levels to $250 million.

Obama did not respond to a reporter asking about what had been the main headline of the day  -  remarks by a senior Israeli intelligence official who said the Assad regime has used chemical weapons against rebel forces.

Brigadier General Itai Brun, head of research and analysis for Israel's military intelligence,  said it was "our professional assessment" that chemical weapons had been used.  

He called use of such weapons without any appropriate international reaction "a very worrying development" that might signal that the world views the action as legitimate.

President Barack Obama has said on a number of occasions that any use or movement of chemical weapons would be a red line that President Bashar al-Assad should not cross, at one point calling it a "game changer."   

Press Secretary Jay Carney said President. Obama continues to view any use of chemical weapons as unacceptable.   But Carney declined to engage in speculation about potential action the U.S. or allies might take.

"All the more reason why we have to monitor very closely and take action to verify and validate credible claims of chemical weapons use," said Carney. "What I won't do is jump to the next step and say if claims are verified, what action will we take.  That is speculating, and I won't do that."

Carney declined to say if Washington believes that Israel, along with France and Britain, have prematurely concluded that Syrian chemical weapons have been used.  He said the U.S. is being "extremely deliberate" in evaluating and attempting to verify these reports.

In Brussels earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry said Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told him he was not in a position to confirm the statement about chemical weapons by the Israeli official.

"I just think that the information I have at this point does not confirm it to me in a way that I would be comfortable in commenting on it as a fact," said Kerry. "But obviously whatever allegations are made have to be thoroughly investigated and it is appropriate to chase this one down and find out what is going on, no question about it."

Press Secretary Jay Carney said the U.S. is using "a variety of methods," which he would not discuss for intelligence reasons, to assess reports and claims of Syrian government chemical weapons use.  

He said Washington continues to support a United Nations investigation, one he said the Assad regime has blocked.

You May Like

Video Protests Continue in Ferguson, Spread to Other US Cities

Missouri officials say deployment of more than 2,000 National Guard soldiers helps curb second night of rampant arson and looting in Midwestern town More

Video Ebola, Crackdown on Illegals Hit Business in Guangzhou

Chinese city has largest community of Africans in Asia More

Video Legendary Lebanese Actress, Singer Sabah Dies at 87

Music and film diva, affectionately called 'Sabbouha' by millions of her fans, performed at Carnegie Hall in New York, Royal Albert Hall in London, Olympia in Paris, Sydney Opera House in Sydney More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Changei
X
November 24, 2014 10:09 PM
Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid