News / Middle East

    New Killings in Syria; US Hints at Bypassing UN

    By Mark Snowiss, Carla Babb

    Jordanians and Syrian refugees protest the killing of at least 108 people in the Syrian town of Houla last Friday, outside the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 30, 2012. Jordanians and Syrian refugees protest the killing of at least 108 people in the Syrian town of Houla last Friday, outside the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 30, 2012.
    x
    Jordanians and Syrian refugees protest the killing of at least 108 people in the Syrian town of Houla last Friday, outside the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 30, 2012.
    Jordanians and Syrian refugees protest the killing of at least 108 people in the Syrian town of Houla last Friday, outside the Syrian embassy in Amman, Jordan, May 30, 2012.
    United Nations observers in Syria have raised new allegations of execution-style killings with the discovery of 13 bound corpses as the United States hinted that continued slaughter in the violence-torn country could prompt outside military intervention.

    The latest atrocity took place in northeastern Deir el-Zour province, where the bodies were found late Tuesday blindfolded with their hands tied behind their backs. A statement by the U.N. mission said some of the dead appeared to have been shot in the head from close range.

    U.N. observer chief Robert Mood said he is "deeply disturbed by this appalling and inexcusable act."

    Speaking after news of the executions had broken, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations described the most likely scenario if international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan completely collapses and total civil war ensues. Susan Rice said a coalition of nations may be forced to take action "outside of the Annan plan and the authority of [the Security] Council," a clear hint of military intervention.

    Thus far, Washington and its allies have rejected the use of force and said they would not arm anti-government fighters.

    International Community Outraged

    International outrage about developments in Syria has mounted since more than 100 civilians - nearly half of them children - were massacred in the Syrian town of Houla last week, prompting the U.S. and other western nations to expel Syrian diplomats in protest.

    Japan and Turkey Wednesday joined nine nations that announced the expulsions of Syrian envoys the day before: the U.S., Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

    Russia's U.N. ambassador to Syria on Wednesday called the moves a "bilateral matter," but warned they could be "misinterpreted by those who want to see foreign military intervention and fighting in Syria."

    In Beijing, foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China opposes regime change by force in Syria. He also said he is not aware of any Chinese move to expel or disrupt the work of Syrian diplomats in the country.

    Diplomats in Geneva said the U.N. Human Rights Council plans to hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the Houla massacre. They said the United States, Turkey and Qatar led the push for the special session.

    Also Wednesday, Germany's ambassador to the U.N., Peter Wittig, urged the Council to consider a resolution that would punish "spoilers" of the Annan plan in what would be the first global sanctions applied in Syria.

    The British and French envoys also spoke of the need to intensify pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

    In Washington, the U.S. Treasury announced Wednesday it will freeze the assets of the Syrian International Islamic Bank to tighten economic pressure on the Syrian government.

    But Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said Moscow, which holds a veto on the Security Council, opposes the idea of ratcheting up pressure on Damascus in the form of U.N. sanctions. He said he agreed the Syrian crisis is deteriorating but blamed all antagonists, saying "we are not one-sided."

    Mr. Annan left Syria Wednesday for talks with Jordanian officials. A U.N. official said the international envoy did not secure any major steps from the Syrian government to implement his faltering peace plan.

    'Annan Plan a Real Failure'

    Annan's blueprint calls on the Syrian government to withdraw heavy weapons from civilian areas and abide by a truce with rebels. But attacks by both sides have continued.

    Syrian activists said fighting between government and rebel forces on Wednesday killed at least nine people, five of them in the Damascus suburb of Douma. They said government troops shelled Douma and the central city of Homs, which also is an opposition stronghold. The casualties could not be independently confirmed.

    Abu Orouba, a media liaison for the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria, told VOA the situation across the country is dire.

    "Annan’s plan is a real failure. As a Syrian citizen, I see that it failed to produce any result - actually none of its articles were implemented. Even the cease-fire requirement was not met," Orouba said. "If Annan’s plan is still on the table and the U.N. observers are still on the ground, why did this massacre ((Houla)) take place? Why is there no cease-fire?"

    Political scientist Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Center in Moscow says the situation in Syria is so dead-locked that a solely diplomatic solution is becoming impossible.  

    “[President Assad] is a nervous man, and, it seems, is so confident in himself that he has gone over the top in his actions,” Malashenko said. “The massacre in Houla is only the beginning; it will continue to get worse.”

    VOA 's Yuliya Appel and Mohammed Elshinnawi contributed to this report.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Gerard McNulty from: Ireland
    May 31, 2012 1:38 AM
    For over a year now its been talk and more talk about now the killing in Syria must stop. There been plan and plan, agreement after agreement and all the time more people die. Russia and china talk about a political settlement while selling arms for profit to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, arms which they know will be used to kill more people. Can the west be spectators in this genocide any more. This is the same as looking on as the old woman is mugged in front of you very eyes and asking both sides to come to an agreement , or in the case of the Russian , selling the mugger the knife and suggesting that its only business. I have heard tough words from Turkey last year , but these have turned to chicken this year as I suspected they would. The West dont want to intervene military to they watch the genocide and do nothing.


    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora