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

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

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.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs