Syr­ian pres­i­dent vows to keep fight­ing

Af­ter call for strikes, Obama sees uni­lat­eral U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tion as a mis­take

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY BEN HUB­BARD AND

BEIRUT | Syria’s pres­i­dent de­fied mount­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to end the year-old crack­down on an up­ris­ing against him and said Tues­day he is de­ter­mined to go on fight­ing what he called “for­eign-backed ter­ror­ism.”

Af­ter U.S. Sen. John Mccain, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can, called for airstrikes on Syria, Pres­i­dent Obama said uni­lat­eral U.S. mil­i­tary ac­tion against Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad’s regime would be a mis­take.

Mr. Obama said the sit­u­a­tion in Syria is more complicated than it was in Libya, where months of NATO airstrikes helped rebels top­ple Moam­mar Gad­hafi.

The United States also said it is propos­ing a new U.N. Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion de­mand­ing an end to vi­o­lence in Syria, first by gov­ern­ment forces and then by op­po­si­tion fight­ers.

But Rus­sia and China, pow­er­ful al­lies that have blocked a Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tion against Syria, made clear they were still stand­ing by the regime in Da­m­as­cus.

“The Syr­ian peo­ple, who have in the past man­aged to crush for­eign plots, . . . have again proven their abil­ity to de­fend the na­tion and to build a new Syria through their de­ter­mi­na­tion to pur­sue re­forms while con­fronting for­eign­backed ter­ror­ism,” Mr. As­sad said, ac­cord­ing to state news agency SANA.

The mil­i­tary crack­down turned to south­ern Daraa prov­ince, where the up­ris­ing be­gan a year ago. Troops shelled a vil­lage in Daraa and clashed with mil­i­tary de­fec­tors.

Ac­tivists said the mil­i­tary blasted a bridge and a tun­nel near the bor­der with Le­banon used as es­cape routes for the wounded and refugees flee­ing cen­tral Homs prov­ince, an op­po­si­tion strong­hold that just en­dured a heavy, month­long of­fen­sive.

Ru­pert Colville, spokesman for the U.N. High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights in Geneva, de­scribed a video that has emerged of tor­ture vic­tims al­legedly shot se­cretly in the mil­i­tary hospi­tal in Homs as “truly shock­ing.”

The footage broad­cast this week on Bri­tain’s Chan­nel 4 shows wounded civil­ian vic­tims blind­folded and chained to their hospi­tal beds, some of them with clear tor­ture marks on their bod­ies al­legedly at the hands of med­i­cal staff.

The in­ter­na­tional out­cry against Syria has been grow­ing louder by the day.

Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Re­cep Tayyip Er­do­gan said Mr. As­sad, un­like his fa­ther and pre­de­ces­sor, will not es­cape pun­ish­ment for the vi­o­lence he has in­flicted. Turkey and Syria, which share a bor­der, were al­lies be­fore the up­ris­ing be­gan.

“I would like to re­mind Bashar As­sad: His fa­ther was not made to ac­count for what he did in this world, but his son will sooner or later ac­count for what he did, for the mas­sacre and the op­pres­sion,” Mr. Er­do­gan said. “This time, the blood­shed in Syr­ian cities will not go un­pun­ished.”


A Free Syr­ian Army fighter holds a home-made gre­nade as an­other fighter has a cof­fee in Idlib, north Syria, on Tues­day. Syria’s pres­i­dent de­fied mount­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to end the year-old crack­down on an up­ris­ing against him.

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