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.
    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

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    City could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters

    Turkey Aims New Crackdown at Journalists, Academics, Airline Workers

    Ankara continues targeting people allegedly linked to exiled cleric, who it says led the failed military coup

    Pakistan Ready to Inaugurate Rebuilt Afghan Border Crossing

    Construction of Torkham Gate triggered deadly clashes between Pakistani and Afghan military forces

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: scott from: minnesota
    June 03, 2012 2:31 PM
    I think maybe Obama should tell Seal Team Six to stand by.

    by: White Hat from: Above Earth
    June 03, 2012 2:01 PM
    And so he should deny it, it wasn't him, it was al- CIAda ie the CIA.

    by: Mvin OnDwn
    June 03, 2012 1:51 PM
    Assad's using the "Dick Cheney Defense" .

    by: Anonymous
    June 03, 2012 12:11 PM
    What kind of leader takes this long to condemn the killings? He thought he would get away with it, several days later he comes denounces the killings? In the photo I see a man who is smiling inside with no remorse, and trying to get off the hook, I'd like to see him 110% held accountable for all his actions. I also would like to see the Arab community go in and help fellow Arabs, with USA only for backup. Put an end to this insane man killing his very own people.

    by: Anonymous
    June 03, 2012 12:08 PM
    He realises now that the International Criminal Court will likely find him guilty of the slaughters. So this is his line of defence denouncing the violence, and blaming it on others. He is likely nervous of seeing the news in Egypt regarding Mubarak. He is absolutely no different than his father, and deserves what is coming to him. He is trying now to say whatever he can to try and defend himself. Don't believe a word he says.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora