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 Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs