News / Middle East

US: Syrian Detentions of Delegates' Families Defy Peace Talks

FILE - George Sabra, a veteran Christian opposition figure. His brother, Mahmoud, was arrested in Syria last week.
FILE - George Sabra, a veteran Christian opposition figure. His brother, Mahmoud, was arrested in Syria last week.
VOA News
The United States said the Syrian government is defying the international community's support of the country's peace talks after the reported detention of people related to opposition delegates taking part in the negotiations.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in a statement late Wednesday the tactics are "not new behavior," and called on President Bashar al-Assad's government to immediately release those "unfairly arrested."

She highlighted the case of Mahmoud Sabra, the brother of an opposition delegate who the Syrian National Coalition said last week was arrested at a checkpoint and thought to be held by security forces in southern Damascus.

So far, two rounds of peace talks with U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi have produced little progress.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry responded to critics Wednesday, saying it is "asinine" to already characterize the process as a failure.

He cited the Vietnam War peace talks, which took more than four years, and the three years it took to resolve the conflict in Bosnia.

Psaki gave a similar message during a press briefing Wednesday, saying peace negotiations can take a very long time.

"Obviously, there are many multiple paths we're working on through the U.N., through engagement with countries in the region, engagement with the Russians, continuing to press the Syrian regime publicly to take more steps. So we're not resting on one step, and we'll see where it goes moving forward. But the most important piece here is that this has also kind of reinvigorated a unity among the international community about the path that is necessary moving forward, which is the implementation of the Geneva communique and the creation of a transitional governing body," said Psaki.

The Syrian conflict has stretched on for nearly three years, with the fighting killing well over 100,000 people and forcing more than 9 million from their homes.

Kerry said in an interview Wednesday with MSNBC that Assad is carrying out "wholesale killing" of his own people, and called the government's actions "unconscionable," "disgraceful" and "horrendous."

He said President Barack Obama is constantly assessing further options without taking any off the table, and that his administration is putting every energy into the situation in Syria.

Kerry said he is continuing to talk to allies, and that Syria will be a part of discussions next week as foreign ministers gather in Paris and Rome for conferences focusing on Lebanon and Libya.

He also said Russia is "increasing its assistance to Assad," which he said is not helping efforts to get the Syrian president to negotiate with the opposition in good faith.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More