Syria Accuses US of Inciting Violence

Posted September 29th, 2011 at 9:39 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Syria increased its criticism of the United States, accusing Washington Thursday of inciting violence against security forces after government loyalists hurled tomatoes and stones at a U.S. envoy.

A state media report says a Foreign Ministry official accused the United States of encouraging “armed terrorist groups” to carry out attacks against Syrian troops.

The SANA news agency quotes the unnamed official as describing U.S. rhetoric as “irresponsible.” The official also says the remarks could encourage violence and blamed U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner for some of them.

Meanwhile, U.S. ambassador Robert Ford eluded stones and tomatoes thrown his way by supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad on Thursday. Witnesses says about 100 people moved in on Ford as he was heading into a meeting with an opposition leader in Damascus.

The U.S. envoy and French ambassador Eric Chevallier have been vocal critics of Mr. Assad's ongoing crackdown on dissent.

On Saturday, government loyalists threw stones and eggs as Chevallier as he was leaving a meeting.

President Assad has repeatedly sent out security forces to quell protests from anti-government activists who have been calling for his resignation.

The United Nations says the government crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March. Syria says the death toll is lower and includes members of the security forces.

The U.N. Security Council is considering a possible compromise resolution on Syria that avoids immediate sanctions but condemns escalating violence, as clashes between security forces and dissident soldiers continue.

On Wednesday, the Council discussed rival draft resolutions on the Syrian crisis drawn up by European powers and Russia.

France, Britain, Germany and Portugal proposed a new resolution in which they drop demands for immediate sanctions, but threaten Mr. Assad with action if he does not end his deadly crackdown.

However, Russia opposes any hint of sanctions. The latest version of its draft resolution seeks to condemn violence by all sides in Syria.

India, Brazil and some other non-permanent Council members also are against imposing punitive measures on Damascus.

Earlier attempts at an agreement ended in August with a presidential statement, which does not carry the same weight as a resolution. Diplomats say they hope to vote on the new draft by the end of the week.