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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    Diplomats Hope to Revive Cradle of Civilization After Defeat of IS

    Diplomats from around globe gather at US State Department, discuss how to rebuild minority communities shattered by Islamic State group

    Women Voters Look Past Gender in Assessing Clinton

    She's the first female presidential nominee, but party identification, other factors outweigh gender

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora