Obama guarantees Assad fall

2012-03-07 10:04

kalahari.com

Washington - President Barack Obama said it was only a matter of time before Syrian President Bashar Assad left office, but squarely opposed a call to launch US military action to force him out.

Obama said what was happening in Syria was "heartbreaking and outrageous", and witness accounts of the devastation after government troops bombarded the rebel stronghold of Baba Amr into submission have given attempts to reach a diplomatic solution renewed urgency.

"The atrocities we saw were beyond our imagination," said one former resident, speaking from a secret location.

UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos and the joint UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan are due to visit Syria this week to see first hand the effects of a conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 7 500 civilians.

World powers met behind closed doors at the United Nations on Tuesday to discuss a US-drafted resolution urging an end to the crackdown on the revolt against Assad and unhindered humanitarian access.

But despite the chorus of outrage, Western leaders have ruled out a Libya-style military intervention in Syria, fearing it could trigger wider conflict in the Middle East.

Question of when, not if


The White House said Obama was committed to diplomatic efforts to end the violence, saying Washington wanted to isolate Assad, cut off his sources of revenue and encourage unity among his opponents.

"Ultimately this dictator will fall," Obama said at a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, adding that it was not a question of if, but when Assad would be forced out.

But he opposed a call by US Senator John McCain, who lost to Obama in the 2008 presidential election, for the United States to lead an international effort to protect population centres in Syria with air strikes on Assad's forces.

"For us to take military action unilaterally, as some have suggested, or to think that somehow there is some simple solution, I think is a mistake," he said.

Obama's comments came as Assad faced growing Western anger for preventing aid from entering the Baba Amr district of Homs, and over accusations of rights abuses, including television images said to show torture victims at a hospital in the city.

The Red Cross said it was still waiting for approval to distribute aid to Baba Amr but residents who had fled across the border to Lebanon told of the destruction.

2 000 police dead


"The smell of death was everywhere. We could smell the bodies buried under the rubble all the time," said Ahmad, who escaped to Lebanon. "We saw so much death that at the end the sight of a dismembered body ... stopped moving us."

Syrian state television aired footage of dozens of men, women and children returning on foot to Baba Amr on Tuesday, passing bullet-pocked and damaged buildings, days after the rebel fighters fled nearly a month of shelling.

It showed pictures of rocket-propelled grenades and guns laid out on the street. Assad's government says the uprising is a campaign by foreign-backed Islamist insurgents that has killed 2 000 police and soldiers since the protests erupted in March.

Secretly shot video footage aired on Monday by a British television station showed what it said were Syrian patients tortured by medical staff at a state-run hospital in Homs.

The video, which Channel 4 said it could not independently verify, showed wounded, blindfolded men chained to beds. Most foreign journalists are banned from Syria.

The UN torture investigator, Juan Mendez, said the Channel 4 clips appeared to support increasingly grave allegations pointing to crimes against humanity.

Call for action

In Homs, activists said security forces were carrying out raids in a district next to Baba Amr on Tuesday, and reported gunfire and explosions in another area.

In Herak, in Deraa province where the revolt erupted nearly a year ago, residents said armoured vehicles and tanks had massed on the western fringe of the city and in parts of the centre. There were raids reported in the city of Deir al-Zor.

Calls for action to protect civilians have grown louder as the Alawite-led security apparatus has cracked down on the uprising that has its roots in the majority Sunni community and which has raised the prospect of a civil war.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, a former ally of Assad, said the violence in Syria had "started to resemble an inhumane savagery in recent days", calling for a humanitarian corridor to be established in Syria to help civilians.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Morocco held what US Ambassador Susan Rice called "preliminary discussions ... about whether there is any possibility of reaching agreement" on a US-drafted resolution.

The draft, obtained by Reuters, demands "unhindered humanitarian access" and "condemns the continued widespread, systematic, and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and demands that the Syrian government immediately put an end to such violations".

No details

Several Western diplomats expressed disappointment with the draft, saying it fell far short of an appropriately stinging condemnation of the Syrian government.

It remains unclear whether the draft, which follows two proposed condemnations of Damascus that Russia and China vetoed, has any chance of success in the 15-nation council, which has been deadlocked over Syria for almost a year.

A Chinese diplomat arrived in Damascus on Tuesday to outline Beijing's peace plan.

UN ambassadors from the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia, along with the sole Arab state on the 15-nation Security Council, Morocco, avoided detailed comments when they left a 1-1/2 hour meeting on the draft on Tuesday.

Chinese Ambassador Li Baodong told reporters: "We're still working on that."

Read more on:    un  |  kofi annan  |  tayyip erdogan  |  bashar assad  |  barack obama  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
33 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

DA wants to empower fishing communities - Zille

DA leader Helen Zille says the party has a plan for harbours and small-scale fishing communities.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 10:15 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS approaching Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.