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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs