News / Middle East

Syria's Assad Denies Responsibility for Houla Massacre

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, as he delivers a speech at the parliament in Damascus, June 3, 2012.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, shows Syrian President Bashar Assad, as he delivers a speech at the parliament in Damascus, June 3, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Edward Yeranian
CAIRO, Egypt - Syria's president has dismissed accusations his government was responsible for the recent massacre of 108 civilians in the town of Houla.  He also charges that forces outside Syria are plotting to destroy the country. 

Syrian government tanks shelled the beleaguered town of Houla on Sunday, while in Damascus, President Bashar al-Assad denied government responsibility for a massacre there two weeks ago.

In a speech to the newly-elected Syrian parliament, Assad appeared to defy mounting international criticism of his brutal response to the revolt against his rule.

He said the recent election was a response to legitimate popular demands, as well as a means to block foreign plots against his country.

He says that with recent reforms, the government is succeeding in combating outside designs on the country and at the same time answering a major part of the people's demands.

The Syrian president drew very little applause during his hour at the podium, unlike many previous addresses to parliament. Arab observers also pointed to the absence of Assad's Sunni vice president, Farouk al-Shara.

A November Arab League peace plan had designated Shara to conduct a dialogue with the opposition and to play a major role in a political transition.

President Assad insisted during his address that the 15-month conflict in Syria was not a “political” problem, but was instead the result of “terrorism.”

He says his government has tried to address the conflict with economic and political reforms, but the real problem facing Syria is terrorism.  He says a terrorist plot seeks to destroy the nation.

Opposition leader Samir al Nashar told Alhurra TV that President Assad has once again tried to lecture the Syrian people.

He says Assad wants to teach people the meaning of nationalism, but that the people do not need any lessons from him.  He says the president fails to see that he and his family are the main causes of the problem in Syria, rather than the outside plots he refers to.

University of Paris political science teacher Khattar Abou Diab says Assad is living in the past.

He says President Assad continues to deny what is happening, appearing more and more out of touch with reality, repeating tired slogans from the 1980s, despite the revolution raging all around him.  He adds Assad appears to think he is still loved by his people and that he can impose his views on others.

Abou Diab also notes that Assad did not even mention the U.N.-Arab League peace plan mediated by former U.N. secretary general Kofi Annan.  “Mr. Assad,” he says, “spoke only of a battle at hand, insisting that he will win it.”

Arab leaders urged Annan Saturday, during a meeting in Qatar, to put a time limit to his plan and to devise an alternative.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Anonymous
June 05, 2012 11:51 AM
Breaking news out of Syria is that an Air Force Officer defects and provides statements that Assad and his militias were entirely behind this massacre, Assad should be held 100% liable.


by: Gab from: USA
June 05, 2012 8:40 AM
The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) an Association of 57 Islamic states promoting Muslim solidarity in economic, social, and political affairs has voted against intervention in Syria. Why? Maybe it is because they have a history of protecting their own autocratic rule.


by: Nigel
June 05, 2012 8:24 AM
Bashar Assad is like a bloody vampire feeding on the blood of the Syrian people. NATO needs to put a stake in his evil heart so the people of Syria can see the sunlight of freedom again.


by: Muhammad from: Sari, Iran
June 04, 2012 5:13 AM
Hi there. Im from Iran. It's so apparent that Dirty Assad has been doing all these crimes with the help of the leaders of Iran. The leaders of Iran has committed so many crimes not only against their people but also all over the world. Dont doubt Iran's leaders are back of Assad. Poor people of Iran and Syria.Iran is a clear indication of violation of Human Rights.


by: K.I.M. from: USA
June 04, 2012 1:38 AM
No one would be killed if dictator Assad had agreed to stepping down from power day one.

KURDISTAN INDEPENDENCE MOVEMENT
K.I.M.


by: Anonymous
June 03, 2012 9:08 PM
The crazy thing is, the people he is calling terrorists many are the family members of those he killed. Bus drivers, taxi drivers, doctors, construction workers, electricians, police officers, chefs, business managers, none of which are terrorists. They are simply trying to get him the heck out of the country. Run Assad now while you can because you will be held accountable. His entire statement is hogwash, all lies, a coverup. Everyone knows it is his troops driving the tanks blowing up everyones homes, does he think everyone is stupid except him? He has another thing coming!


by: tim dunk from: british columbia
June 03, 2012 3:40 PM
The timing might be inconvenient for the US troops returning from Iraq, but when the enormous cost of demob from Iraq and mobilisation to Syria is weighed in, the logistics of a traverse across the Syrian desert from Iraq is looking more practical every day. Wait and see, but with the crisis reaching that critical overflow point into neighbouring countries, and more calls for outside involvement, we might get sucked into being bad guys again allot sooner than hoped.


by: Iraqi from: iraq
June 03, 2012 2:50 PM
i am sure that the Qaeda and some Islamic members did the masscre


by: Anwar from: Malaysia
June 03, 2012 2:44 PM
Some Western governments blame Damascus for the massacre, but a Syrian government investigation into the deadly incident has shown that anti-Damascus armed groups had carried out the killings to "bring foreign military intervention against the country in any form and way."

This work is similar to recent coordinated incedents of terrorist attacks against israel in India and Thailand, attempted murder of Saudi Ambassador by Iranian dissidents to bring foreign military intervention against Irani n any form and way.

Fact speaks for itself, after Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, US wants a regime change in Syria on behalf of unbreakable bond israel, in order for the US to enforce its solid defacto Islamaphobia policies in mideast nations.


by: Anonymous
June 03, 2012 2:37 PM
Watched his speech and didn't see him smile like you indicated! President Assad was sincere and his words had more truth than you can find coming from western media or other leaders.

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid