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 Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said To Be Improving

Experimental drugs have been tried on six people: three Westerners and now, three African pyhysicians More

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

As Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities residents rebuild their lives, but many say everyone is being treated with suspicion More

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

Girls learn to object; FGM practitioners face penalties from jail sentences to stiff fines 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.
Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improvingi
X
Carol Pearson
August 19, 2014 11:43 PM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video For Obama, Racial Violence is Personal Issue

The racial violence in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson is presenting U.S. President Barack Obama with an issue to which he has a deep personal connection. To many Americans, Obama's election as America's first black president marked a turning point in race relations in the United States, and Obama has made ending the violence a policy priority. On Monday he issued a new call for calm and understanding. Luis Ramirez reports from the White House.
Video

Video Clinton-Obama Relationship Could Impact 2016 Election

President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have a long and complicated relationship. That relationship took another turn recently when Clinton criticized the president’s foreign policy. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports there is renewed attention on the Clinton-Obama relationship as Hillary Clinton considers running for
Video

Video Iran Looks to Maintain Influence in Baghdad With New Shia PM

Washington and Tehran share the goal of stopping Syrian-based militants in Iraq. But experts say it's Iran, not the United States, that will most influence how the new government in Baghdad approaches internal reforms and the war in Syria. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns has the story.

AppleAndroid