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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid