World News

Syrian Execution Images Overshadow Summit; US 'Horrified'



Images of Syrian rebels executing seven government soldiers displayed the violence of the Syrian civil war Thursday as world leaders met for summit talks in Russia, with no sign they have reconciled their differences over that Middle East conflict.

The U.S. State Department said it was "horrified" by video and photographic images published by The New York Times. The influential newspaper identified the leader of the execution squad and reported he ordered the videotaping months ago to drum up support for the rebel cause.

There was no official comment on the grisly images in St. Petersburg, where the Group of 20 nations met for their annual economic summit. U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who are at odds over how to respond to the carnage in Syria, greeted each other as the summit began, but there were no reported private contacts between them.

At the State Department in Washington, spokeswoman Jan Psaki condemned summary executions by any party to the Syrian conflict. She did not dispute the newspaper account that said the killings documented executions carried out in April, but said U.S. authorities are seeking more information.

The video showed prisoners crouching in front of their captors. They were stripped to the waist and their backs were covered with red welts.

The seven pressed their faces into the dirt as the rebel commander recited what was described as a revolutionary verse. About 24 gunshots followed, and the victims' bodies were thrown into a well.

In St. Petersburg, President Obama is seeking support for military strikes against Syria's government for its widely reported use of chemical weapons last month .



Mr. Putin supports the Syrian government's contrary account of the poison-gas attacks near Damascus that are said to have killed more than 1,400 people. The Assad regime and its supporters in the Kremlin contend it was rebels who used illegal chemical weapons, firing at government troops.

The Russian president has warned that military strikes such as those Mr. Obama is proposing would be unacceptable "aggression" against Syria if they are not authorized by the United Nations. Russia has blocked previous efforts by the Security Council to act against Syria for its tactics in the civil war, which is now in its third year. But Mr. Putin says he would support a strike if there was "convincing" proof that Damascus used chemical weapons.

Russia and China both have cast vetoes at the Security Council to defeat Western efforts to hold Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government responsible for the wholesale slaughter of civilians caught up in the conflict.

At the U.N., where American officials hosted briefings on the events in Syria, U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power said Russia is holding the world body hostage and shirking its international responsibilities.



"There is nothing in the pattern of our interactions with our colleagues in the Security Council, our Russian colleagues, that would give us any reason to be optimistic. And, indeed, we have seen nothing in President Putin's comments that suggests there is an available path forward at the Security Council."



Lawmakers in the U.S. Senate could begin debate next week on a measure calling for limited military strikes on Syria. A key Senate panel on Wednesday approved the draft resolution, which also rules out deploying U.S. ground troops to the country.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs