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

Arab League Delays Forming Joint Force

Delay grows out of one of original obstacles facing pan-Arab force, analysts say: 'They may agree on the principle, but they continue to argue about how to implement the project' More

Pakistan Demands Afghanistan Protect Its Kabul Mission, Staff

Officials in Islamabad say Afghan agents are harassing Pakistani embassy personnel, particularly those living outside of mission’s compound More

US Survey: Trump Lead Grows in Republican Presidential Contest

update Quinnipiac University poll shows brash billionaire real estate mogul with 28 percent support among Republican voters 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs