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 Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

While not yet independently confirmed, brutal killing already has gotten attention of Islamic State followers on social media More

After Six Years, Little Change for Niger Delta's Former Militants

Nigerians who laid down arms in exchange for government amnesty subsidies fear program may end with upcoming presidential elections More

Vietnam Pushes for More Educated Drivers to Curb Road Deaths

Transportation officials hope that making a greater effort to get drivers to learn the rules of the road will reduce fatal crashes 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

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