News / Middle East

US Urges Expanded Monitoring Mission in Syria

This image made from amateur video and released December 27, 2011, purports to show men carrying an injured man in Homs, Syria, December 26, 2011.
This image made from amateur video and released December 27, 2011, purports to show men carrying an injured man in Homs, Syria, December 26, 2011.

The United States on Tuesday welcomed the start of Arab League monitoring operations in Syria, but urged the expansion of the unprecedented mission. U.S. officials accused Syrian officials of stepping up violence against protestors before the monitors deployed.

Officials here are expressing relief that the long-awaited monitoring mission is underway. But they say they hope to see the Arab League observer force expanded, and they accuse Syrian authorities of trying to decimate the opposition before the monitors arrived.

In a talk with reporters, State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner said it was obvious that the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad stepped up violence against protestors as Arab League personnel prepared to enter the country.

“The government in Damascus - the regime, rather - used the last several days as an opportunity to escalate their attacks on several cities and neighborhoods in Homs, in Dera’a and other cities prior to the deployment of these monitors," said Toner. "It was a horrible situation where the violence spiked over the course of several days. We obviously condemn this escalation of violence.”

Toner said the actions are inconsistent with the Arab League initiative, which the Syrian government agreed to in principle early last month, but only signed the protocol authorizing the entry of the monitors last week.

Early press reports said the Arab League intended to field several hundred monitors. But the initial force, which arrived in the country late Monday and deployed in the protest flash-point of Homs on Tuesday, numbers only about 50, with another 100 to be deployed soon.

Human rights groups and policy analysts accuse the Arab League of yielding to Syrian pressure to reduce the number of observers.

State Department Spokesman Toner said the United States wants to see the international presence expanded, but he commended the Arab League for its initiative.

“The Arab League has accomplished a great deal in a very short time - both in engaging on the situation in Syria and in a very proactive way, addressing the international community’s concerns about what’s happening there. The fact that they’ve got now people on the ground providing that monitoring ability is an important first step, but obviously we want to see more.”

Toner said the United States has not received an initial report from the Arab League on the team's findings, although news reports say there was gunfire as monitors met civilians in Homs. He said the U.S. ambassador in Damascus, Robert Ford, has met Arab League representatives in the Syrian capital, but that he had not yet talked with observer force chief, Sudanese General Mohammed al-Dabi.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs