News / Middle East

US Toughens Syria Rhetoric Amid Rising Death Toll

A demonstrator protests Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Dec. 19, 2011.
A demonstrator protests Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, Dec. 19, 2011.

The United States Wednesday warned Syria of additional punitive steps by the international community if the government of President Bashar al-Assad fails to halt its crackdown on protestors. The U.S. call came before the expected arrival in Syria Thursday of an advance team of Arab League monitors.

U.S. officials are expressing dismay that Syrian security forces are escalating repressive steps only a day before the monitors' long-awaited arrival.

Amid reported death tolls in Syrian clashes approaching 200 over a two-day span, the White House said Wednesday that words by the Assad government have no credibility "when they continue to be followed by outrageous and deplorable actions."

Obama administration officials said Damascus had already flagrantly violated Arab League peace protocol commitments it had signed onto Monday, pledging to end violence and withdraw security forces from residential areas.

The White House urged what it termed "Syria’s few remaining supporters" to warn Damascus that if the Arab League initiative is not fully implemented, the international community "will take additional steps to pressure the Assad regime to stop its crackdown."

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said such action should begin with a tightening of economic sanctions, such that "any countries that are continuing to trade with the regime or otherwise line its coffers, and give it fuel, food, money -- anything that it can use against its own people -- [would have to] examine hard their own national policies."

Syria expert Andrew Tabler, visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), says Syria was apparently able, in negotiations with the Arab League, to pare down the number of monitors going in from several hundred to about 120.

He attributes this week’s surge in violence to an effort by Damascus authorities to decimate the opposition before monitors arrive.

"They want to be able to kill and finish-off a lot of people before the monitors show up," he said. "They know that a lot of these activities they have been carrying out are now going to have the potential for being spotted and reported upon, so they want to make sure that they take care of that. Second, I think a lot of the opposition over the last few weeks has gone down the road toward more of an armed opposition, and I think that is getting a response from the Assad regime and driving up the death toll.”

Tabler said the currently envisioned Arab League monitoring force is not nearly large enough, and unless something can be done to increase the number of observers, their presence will be "irrelevant" and fail to solve the crisis.

The White House said the only way to bring about the change the Syrian people deserve is for President Assad to leave power.

Tabler, however, said he sees no inclination by the Syrian leader to depart and that U.S. policy, as a consequence, is "stuck."

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge 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.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid