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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid