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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs