News / Middle East

    US Condemns Attack on Pro-Assad Syrian TV Station

    Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
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    Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
    Debris from damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of Al-Ikhbariya news channel near Damascus, June 27, 2012, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
    VOA News
    The United States has condemned a deadly attack by gunmen on a Syrian pro-government television station and said it hopes an upcoming meeting of world powers in Geneva will be a turning point in resolving Syria's 15-month conflict.

    Militants attacked the headquarters of the al-Ikbariya satellite channel near Damascus with guns and bombs before dawn Wednesday, killing three journalists and four security guards. The station is privately-owned but strongly supports the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. It resumed broadcasting shortly after the raid.

    The Syrian government blamed the attack on "armed terrorists," a term it uses for rebels trying to end Mr. Assad's 11-year rule. But, Syrian rebel commanders denied responsibility and said a unit of the elite Republican Guard had defected and attacked the station.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday that Washington "condemns all acts of violence including those targeting pro-regime elements." He called on all parties in the conflict to "cease acts of hostility."

    The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting across Syria on Wednesday killed at least 80 people, more than half of them civilians. Activists have said the death toll in the conflict has jumped to around 100 people a day in the past week because of escalating attacks by heavily-armed security forces and lightly-armed rebels.

    Carney said Syria's "dire" situation is a result of Mr. Assad trying to "cling on to power at all costs."

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed "great hope" that a meeting of world powers to be held in Geneva on Saturday will be a "turning point" in efforts to get international agreement on a plan "that will lead Syrians to a better future." She was speaking on a visit to Finland.

    International peace envoy Kofi Annan called the high-level meeting, saying the "Syria Action Group" will attempt to agree on principles for a "Syrian-led political transition." He sent invitations to ministers of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council as well as to representatives of the Arab League and Turkey.

    Two major regional players were not invited: Iran, a major ally of Mr. Assad, and Saudi Arabia, a prominent supporter of his enemies. The United States had objected to any Iranian participation in a meeting on Syria's future, saying Tehran could not play a constructive role while helping the Syrian president to crush his opponents.

    Mr. Annan had wanted to include Iran in the Geneva meeting and gave no explanation for excluding it. But U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Mr. Annan will brief the Iranian government about the outcome of the talks because the envoy believes Tehran should be "part of the solution."

    Russia, another longtime ally of the Assad government, also had called for Iran to be included in the Syria Action Group.

    • A damaged building of al-Ikbariya TV is seen after it was attacked by gunmen, in the town of Drousha, about 20 kilometers (14 miles) south of Damascus, June 27, 2012. (photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA)
    • Damaged equipment at the site of an attack on the pro-government al-Ikbariya satellite television channel's offices outside Damascus
    • A Syrian man stands inside a burnt room of al-Ikbariya TV station in Drousha (photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA)
    • Damaged control room of al-Ikbariya TV station (photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA)
    • A damaged equipment storage room of the Ikhbariya TV station after it was attacked by gunmen in Drousha (photo released by the Syrian official news agency, SANA)
    • Damaged buildings after gunmen stormed the headquarters of al-Ikbariya
    Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Mohammad Khazaee reacted to the Geneva snub by saying "nobody can ignore ... the influence and constructive role that Iran has in the region." He also reiterated Iran's support for Mr. Annan's Syria peace plan that calls for an end to fighting and the start of a dialogue but has been ignored by Syria's warring sides.

    In another development, U.N. investigators accused President Assad's forces of committing rights violations on "an alarming scale." In a report published Wednesday, the U.N. panel investigating human rights violations in Syria also said the situation is "dangerously and quickly deteriorating."

    The panel's Brazilian chairman, Paulo Pinheiro, said "gross human rights violations" - including torture and summary executions - have been committed regularly by both sides in the conflict.

    Syria's ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Faisal Khabbaz Hamoui, rejected the panel's accusations against his government and warned that Damascus will end its cooperation with international agencies.

    Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: john from: Lagos
    June 28, 2012 7:04 AM
    It stops short at only condemning the terrorist act

    by: Chas from: Missouri
    June 27, 2012 11:53 PM
    "US condemns attack on pro Assad TV station." When does the impostor president act? Maybe he can community organize inside Syria to attempt to take out the oppressive regime. If this were happening in Chicago, he would act, but he is busy courting votes in Colorado, er supporting the fire fighting efforts. If it were not in play he would be elsewhere for sure.

    by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
    June 27, 2012 11:09 PM
    I hope someone believe that the U.S. condemnation of the pro-Assad TV station is sincere. I don't believe it, and that is a compliment. Assad's TV propaganda machine will just prolong his ouster, and increase the bloodshed. His Minister of Information told reporters that "the rebels destroyed the TV to stifle Free Speech!"

    The Assad's Dynasty muffled "free speech" in Syria for 40 years,
    and the TV destruction by the rebels now was justified as a
    liberation act. The destruction of a tyrant's supporting organs by a revolution is legitimate under the democratic principles.. Nikos Retsos, retired professor
    In Response

    by: Plain Mirror from: Plain Planet
    June 29, 2012 7:00 AM
    The simple truth is that you do not understand the language of politics and the games to rule. Obama is happy in everything that the rebels do in Syria. He is investing in the hands of the rebels by providing them with supports. He does this for the whole interest of Americans. American economy has been predicted to fall even earlier than expected. So he puts problems in Arab world in disguise for democracy, putting his loyalists in order to sysytematically intrude into the would be new regime's economy. This is just a check to balance the sinking America economy. be informed please!

    by: Garth Banks from: Falmouth
    June 27, 2012 11:03 PM
    I wonder if the USA has a financial interest in the TV station or if it is a source of intelligence. Their attitude seems a little strange unless they are afraid of reprisals on their TV stations.

    by: jerry from: Oregon
    June 27, 2012 10:55 PM
    I know that harsh language worked on me. When I was five years old

    by: Anonymous
    June 27, 2012 10:44 PM

    At a time when America’s Arab allies are reportedly funneling cash and rifles to Syrian rebels, the United States itself has—at least publicly—stayed on the sidelines.

    The Syrian Support Group is hoping to change this. The U.S.-based organization has spent the past couple of weeks banging on the doors of congressmen, government agencies, and think tanks, making the case that arming Syria’s rebels in order to oust President Bashar al-Assad is a sound strategic investment. The SSG’s website calls the Free Syrian Army—the main opposition group comprised of 10 regional militias and military defectors—a “group of Heroes” and accepts donations via PayPal. The group says it has received donations from 59 people, in amounts no larger than $5,000, since launching in December.

    by: Anonymous
    June 27, 2012 10:23 PM

    WASHINGTON — A small number of CIA officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, US officials and Arab intelligence officers said. The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition, and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, the officials said.

    The CIA officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior US official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.

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