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Troops had largely withdrawn from the city after a June 3 crackdown on protesters that killed at least 60 people there.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

Video Obama Announces Plan to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Obama details troop deployment and other pieces of US plan More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa 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.
Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Communityi
X
September 16, 2014 2:06 PM
Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


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