News / Middle East

US Envoy Visits Syrian City of Hama to Support Protesters

US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford
US Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford

The U.S. ambassador to Syria has traveled to the city of Hama to express solidarity with residents protesting the rule of President Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian government condemned the visit as an attempt to incite anti-government sentiment. Hama has been a focal point of the nation's political unrest, with the situation escalating this week as tanks surround the city.

The central city of Hama has been one of the centers of the movement against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

This week, tanks moved to the outskirts of the city, raising concerns of a military assault.

A rights activist in Syria said Thursday that security patrols have killed at least 25 civilians inside Hama in recent days and detained more than 100 people. She said hundreds of people have fled the city.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday that the United States is "greatly concerned" about the situation in Hama. She said the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, had gone to the city to express solidarity with protesters.

"The fundamental intention was to make absolutely clear with his physical presence that we stand with those Syrians who are expressing their right to speak for change, who want a democratic future and are expressing those views peacefully," Nuland said.

Nuland said Ambassador Ford was in Hama Thursday on his own trip, and is not being hosted by the Syrian government. But she said the embassy did inform the government that a delegation would be heading to the city.

Nuland said Ford has described the situation in Hama as "tense," with many shops closed and people concerned about whether security forces will move in.

"He had at least a dozen encounters with those Syrians of Hama who are dissatisfied and concerned about the government's action," Nuland said.

Nuland said the U.S. ambassador plans to stay in the city through Friday, when more protests are planned.

Syrian security forces moved in on Hama after President Assad fired the provincial governor following a massive anti-government rally in the city last Friday.

Troops had largely withdrawn from the city after a June 3 crackdown on protesters that killed at least 60 people there.

Human rights groups say security forces have killed at least 1,400 civilians across Syria since the uprising began in mid-March. The Syrian government says terrorists and Islamist militants have killed hundreds of security personnel during the same period.

As the crackdown widens, London-based rights group Amnesty International says Syrian forces may have committed crimes against humanity during an operation last month near the Lebanese border.

Amnesty International's Philip Luther said a report the organization prepared on the operation looks specifically at events in the town of Talkalakh. "We conducted interviews with more than 50 people in May and June and on the basis of that heard really harrowing testimonies of torture and other ill treatment in detention, deaths in custody and arbitrary detention," Luther said.

Syrian officials have denied reports of a military campaign against Hama.

The city is an important symbol of Syrian resistance against the Assad regime and the brutality used to contain it. In 1982, President Bashar al-Assad's late father used military force to silence a rebellion there, killing tens of thousands.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid