News / Middle East

US: Damascus Violence Is Sign Assad Losing Control

Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
x
Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
Burnt out cars at site of blast in Damascus June 28, 2012
The United States says escalating violence in and around Damascus is a result of President Bashar al-Assad assaulting the Syrian people and a sign that he is losing control of the capital.

A bomb exploded near Syria's main judiciary complex, known as the Palace of Justice, in central Damascus on Thursday, wounding three people. A day earlier, militants attacked a pro-government private TV station on the capital's outskirts, killing three journalists and four security guards. Syria's government blamed the attacks on armed terrorists whom it says are behind the country's 15-month uprising against  Assad's 11-year rule.

U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said Thursday Washington also "condemns violence against innocents from any direction that they come from." But, she said President Assad has created the conditions for a loss of government control in Damascus and elsewhere by "perpetrating violence against his own people." Nuland said the "preponderance of force is his and the responsibility is his."

Turkey also increased pressure on Assad, deploying troops and anti-aircraft batteries to its border with Syria in response to the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syrian fire last week. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ordered his troops to treat any Syrian security forces approaching the border as a target. The Turkish government also has been hosting Syrian rebels and tens of thousands of Syrian refugees.

Iranian television broadcast a rare interview with Assad on Thursday, saying he rejected foreign pressure to end his suppression of the uprising. A Farsi translation dubbed over the interview quoted the Syrian president as saying foreign pressure "did not have an effect in the past and it will not have any influence in the future."

The Farsi translator also quoted Assad as accusing Turkish officials of pursuing policies that lead to the killing of Syrians. But, the translation said the Syrian president makes a distinction between the Turkish government and what he called the positive view of Turkish people towards Syria. Iranian television said the interview was conducted last week.

The developments come as the International Committee of the Red Cross said fighting between government and rebel forces has continued in the rebellious central city of Homs, preventing aid workers from evacuating sick and wounded civilians. The ICRC said a joint Red Cross and Syrian Arab Red Crescent team tried to enter Homs on Wednesday after both sides pledged to pause the fighting, but turned back because "agreed-upon conditions were not met."

The ICRC did not say who violated the agreements. But, Syrian state news agency SANA said the government accused "terrorists" of foiling the aid mission to Homs. There was no immediate response from rebels in the city.

World powers were preparing to gather in Geneva for a Saturday meeting called by international peace envoy Kofi Annan, who wants them to agree on new ideas for resolving the Syrian conflict. U.N. diplomatic sources said Annan is proposing the formation of a Syrian unity government that does not explicitly exclude Assad but would bar those whose participation could undermine the country's stability. Details were vague.

Syrian opposition groups said they would not accept any political transition plan that lacks an explicit call for Assad to step down.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
x
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, answers questions during Moscow news conference, June 28, 2012
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said any solution to the crisis must be decided by Syrians themselves. He said Russia, a longtime ally of the Assad government, will not support external "meddling."

"The meeting in Geneva was intended to support Kofi Annan's plan and it must set the conditions for the end of violence and the start of an all-Syrian national dialogue, and not pre-determine the contents of this dialogue," Lavrov said.

Lavrov said it was a "mistake" not to invite Syrian ally Iran to the Geneva talks, calling the country an "influential player" in the situation. The United States had objected to Iran being included in the meeting, which will be attended by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus representatives of Turkey and the Arab League. Saudi Arabia, a prominent supporter of the Syrian opposition, also was not invited.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told reporters in Latvia that Washington believes any solution must comply "with international standards on human rights, accountable governance, the rule of law and equal opportunity for all people of Syria." Clinton said the Annan framework "lays out how to arrive at that."

Lavrov and Clinton are due to meet in St. Petersburg on Friday to discuss the Syria crisis.

Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma, said the Obama administration has steadily gained confidence that its policy of regime change "is the correct one and is going to happen sooner or later." He said Russia still appears convinced that it can find a way to keep Assad loyalists in power even without the Assad family itself.

But Landis said the balance of power in Syria is changing.

"The Arab majority, the Sunni Arab majority, is going to win this in the long run. That's what's been happening throughout the Middle East in the last several decades," Landis said.

Landis predicted the transition from minority Alawite domination to Sunni Muslim rule in Syria would be protracted and messy. But he noted that Western and Arab sanctions on the Syrian government and assistance to the rebels are already bearing fruit.

"Western Europe, the Gulf countries, America are starving the Syrian government with very strict sanctions. And they are feeding the opposition, pumping in money, arms [and] intelligence. This is rapidly changing the balance of power," Landis said.

Landis said Assad's government still has many assets, but the rebel Free Syrian Army "is becoming much more lethal, getting much better at terrorist-type attacks and is taking the fight to the regime."

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

Mark Snowiss

Mark Snowiss is a Washington D.C.-based multimedia reporter.  He has written and edited for various media outlets including Pacifica and NPR affiliates in Los Angeles. Follow him on Twitter @msnowiss and on Google Plus

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Lorett Redloex from: France
June 29, 2012 7:11 AM
unfortunately, since we have come to know the lies perpetrated by the Palestinians regarding "massacres" (which they have perpetrated on their own people) the real massacres in Syria remain "unverified" - nobody wants to play a fool for the Arabs false claims... so, for all the brave Syrians - you should resent the Palestinians for muddying the waters for you...
In Response

by: Ismail Aljazaeri
June 29, 2012 9:48 AM
A question to Americans: So now the US support use of terror to make political gain? I thought you were against it in Iraq when the US forces were subjected to roadside bombs, and suicide bombing against civilian target! and against Palestinian bombing of Israeli targets! Why are you supporting Syrian terrors against civilian targets? isnt this a contradiction? do you thing you will be imuned in future? America, your positions are confusing
In Response

by: MD from: Hebrides, Scotland
June 29, 2012 9:06 AM
Dear Miss Redloex, the problem you have identified - is a problem of credibility across the Arab nations... its not endemic to the Palestinians although the Palestinians are the most egregious of the conduct - their credibility has never been good to begin with... the whole Arab nations are know to be cavalier with facts - in fact if you learn about Islam in general you will see that there are no distinct perimeters separating fact from fantasy... so its not only Palestinians but Egyptians Saudis Libyans Jordanians Iraquis the list is endless... there are 2 Billion Muslims with tenuous hold on reality...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More