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

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Video Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap 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.
Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’i
X
Jeff Seldin
September 20, 2014 10:28 PM
Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid