News / Middle East

US Condemns Syria Terror Bombings

A delegation of Arab League officials visits a site to inspect damages to buildings after a car bomb attack in Damascus, Syria, December 23, 2011.
A delegation of Arab League officials visits a site to inspect damages to buildings after a car bomb attack in Damascus, Syria, December 23, 2011.

The United States is condemning Friday’s car bombings in Damascus and says it is crucial that the terror attacks not hinder the Arab League mission now arriving in Syria to monitor human rights abuses. Analysts say the monitoring force is too small given the widespread anti-government unrest in Syria.  

The twin car bombings - at what were described as state security sites in Damascus - killed about 40 people and further complicated what U.S. officials see as a critical observer mission by the Arab League.

The Syrian government attributed the blasts to al-Qaida. The attacks came a day after the arrival of the first members of a human rights monitoring force from Arab states.

Syria's stalling tactics

Syria resisted international pressure to accept the observers for six weeks before agreeing last Monday to allow a smaller mission than first envisioned. The force will have just over 100 people, many of them military personnel.

The State Department condemned the bombings “in the strongest terms” and said there can be no justification for terrorism of any kind.

Spokesman Mark Toner said it is crucial that Friday’s attack not impede the work of the Arab League mission, the first outside observers allowed in since the Syrian government began cracking down on protesters nine months ago.

“Despite today’s violence, the Arab League mission needs to continue. It’s really the best method right now to provide a way to document and deter the ongoing human rights abuses," said Toner. "So we feel it’s very important that the mission proceed, that we get monitors on the ground in as many places as possible as soon as possible.”

Deadly crackdown escalates

Toner said the burden is on the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to cooperate fully and quickly with the Arab League mission. He said the Syrian people, who continue to suffer daily, deserve a peaceful political transition and an immediate end to repression.

Lethal attacks on civilians attributed to government security forces have soared since the Damascus government agreed to admit the observers.

Syria expert Andrew Tabler at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy called it an attempt by the Assad government to decimate the opposition before witnesses arrive. Tabler said the Arab League force is, in any case, too small.

“Exactly how many monitors are going to be allowed into the country, and how many are the Arab League bringing in? It seems like it’s only a number of 120 or so. And that’s not nearly enough. If there isn’t something that we can do to get more monitors into the county, I think it will be irrelevant - the deal itself will not be able to solve the problem,” said Tabler.

Concerns abound over monitoring

In a commentary Friday, Tabler said he is concerned the Assad government - in the name of providing security for the monitors - will escort them only to “staged areas” that distort or obscure the actual situation.

He also expressed concern that the head of the Arab League mission is the former military intelligence chief of Sudan, a country whose record on protecting civilians in Darfur is hardly exemplary.

State Department spokesman Toner said there are credible allegations of rights abuses over the years by the Sudanese military and intelligence services. Toner, however, said he is unaware of specific charges against the mission head, Lieutenant General Mohammed al-Dabi.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?i
X
Henry Ridgwell
August 29, 2014 12:26 AM
U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Pachyderms Play Polo to Raise Money for Elephants

Polo, the ancient team competition typically played on horseback, is known as the “sport of kings.” However, the royal version for one annual event in Thailand swaps the horse for the kingdom’s national symbol - the elephant. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Samut Prakan reports that the King’s Cup Elephant Polo tournament is all for a good cause.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid