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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid