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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs