News / Middle East

US: Syrian Brutality Spurs Opposition Violence

Demonstrators protest Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Hula, Nov. 13, 2011.
Demonstrators protest Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Hula, Nov. 13, 2011.

The United States is blaming sustained government brutality for the apparent emergence of an organized, armed opposition in Syria.

State Department officials say they do not condone violence by either side in the confrontation, but that armed attacks by the opposition only play into the hands of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner called incidents like Wednesday's reported attack on the intelligence base north of the Syrian capital understandable, given the unrelenting crackdown by the government.

"It’s not surprising that we are now seeing this kind of violence. We don’t condone it in any way, shape or form, but let’s be very clear that it is the brutal tactics of Assad and his regime in dealing with what began as a non-violent movement that is now taking Syria down a very dangerous path," he said. "We have spoken all along about our concerns that the brutal crackdown by the Syrian government would engender this kind of reaction."

Toner said the U.S. has few details of the attack. It has been attributed to the self-proclaimed “Free Syrian Army,” which is said to be made up of defectors from government security forces.

Although the U.S. has contacts with an array of Syrian opposition figures, he said he was unaware of any dealings with the armed group.

Syrian authorities have blamed the country’s long-running political unrest on foreign-backed militants and Toner said opposition violence like Wednesday’s reported incident "really plays into Assad’s hands."

Toner said the Obama administration still intends to send U.S. ambassador to Syria Robert Ford back to his post next week, despite a spate of attacks on foreign missions in Damascus -- especially those of member countries of the Arab League.

The Arab League this week suspended Syria for its failure to implement the regional organization’s peace plan.

Robin Wright, a veteran diplomatic reporter and senior fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace, says the Arab League’s action against Syria may be "the beginning of a turning point" for the traditionally cautious regional body.

"The Arab leaders have begun to understand that they are also being held to account, and that the streets are watching what they do," she said. " And they will be judged, at home, in terms of their own credibility and legitimacy, on what they do about Syria, particularly after the United Nations concluded that 3,500 [Syrians] have been killed and some 70,000 have been imprisoned."

U.S. ambassador Ford was recalled to Washington for consultations last month amid concern for his safety after he drew the ire of Syrian officials for meeting with opposition figures.

French envoy to Damascus Eric Chevallier, who like Ford has had a high public profile in the unrest, was recalled to Paris Wednesday amid the wave of embassy attacks.

Toner, who blamed the latest incidents on pro-government "thugs" and "rent-a-mobs," said the U.S. embassy continues to function and there has been no change in plans for Ford’s return to post.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid