News / Middle East

US Expels Syrian Diplomat Over Houla Massacre

A view of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC.A view of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC.
x
A view of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC.
A view of the Syrian Embassy in Washington, DC.
STATE DEPARTMENT - The United States is expelling Syria's most senior envoy in Washington over what it says is the Syrian government's responsibility for last week's massacre in the village of Houla.  U.N. observers confirm the deaths of more than 90 people in Houla, including several families who appear to have been executed in their homes.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says Syrian Charge d’Affaires Zuheir Jabbour has 72 hours to leave the United States. "We took this action in response to the massacre in the village of Houla - absolutely indefensible, vile, despicable massacre - against innocent children, women, shot at point-blank range by regime thugs, the Shabiha, aided and abetted by the Iranians, who were actually bragging about it over the weekend," she said.

Nuland offered no evidence linking Iran to this attack, but said Washington "finds it interesting" that the deputy head of Iran's Quds Force has since chosen to take credit for the advice they are giving to Syria.

The Obama administration says it took the decision to expel Syria's most senior representative in coordination with Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain, which are also expelling Syrian diplomats.

Nuland said the violence is "the most unambiguous indictment to date" of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's ongoing threat to peace and security as well as what she called his "flagrant violations" of U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for an end to fighting and the release of political prisoners.

U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told President Assad on Tuesday that a U.N. peace plan "cannot succeed without bold steps to stop the violence."   A U.N. spokesman says Mr. Annan conveyed to President Assad the international community's concern about the bloodshed, including the Houla killings.

The State Department's Nuland said Washington continues to support Mr. Annan's mediation efforts, but believes the time for diplomacy with Mr. Assad has passed. "He is doing what he can to try to convince a man who would send thugs into a village to kill women and children to do the right thing here and to stop the violence.  He is a man who believes in continuing to talk.  That said, from our perspective the only thing that Assad is going to listen to is pressure," she said.

In the coming days, Nuland said, the United States will continue to look at ways to pressure the the Syrian government economically, politically and diplomatically at the United Nations and in foreign capitals.

Russia has vetoed previous U.N. efforts to sanction President Assad.  A Russian foreign ministry statement on Tuesday called for an "objective and impartial" U.N. probe into the killings, saying "the tragedy in Houla underscored that all the sides in Syria must immediately renounce violence in order to avoid a repeat of such incidents."

Nuland said the United States welcomes Russia's call for such a probe because it is "undisputable" that the inquiry's findings would point back to President Assad. "So, you know, from that perspective, is this going to be a turning point in Russian thinking?  We hope so," she said.

On Sunday, Russia and China backed Security Council condemnation of the Syrian government for using artillery in Houla.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says the situation there appears to be one in which Syrian forces and its opponents "had a hand in the deaths of innocent people."

You May Like

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid