Assad: US Hindering Peace in Syria

Posted July 8th, 2012 at 4:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says outside supporters of those he calls terrorists — including the United States, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar — are hindering peace in Syria.

In an interview with German television Sunday, Mr. Assad accused the United States of being partially responsible for the deaths of civilians by partnering with the rebels.

United Nations human rights chief Navi Pillay has urged Syria to let independent investigators look into Mr. Assad's charges that terrorists and not the Syrian government are behind the violence. He has not replied.

U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan is in Damascus for talks with President Assad, after admitting that international efforts to stem the bloodshed in Syria have failed. His plan calls for an immediate halt to the violence and talks between the opposition and government.

Influential Republican U.S. Senator John McCain is calling the U.S. response to the calamity in Syria so far “shameful and disgraceful.” McCain told CBS television Sunday that the Obama administration should arm the opposition trying to topple President Assad so there can be what he called a balanced fair fight.

McCain noted that Russia is sending arms to the Syrian government and Iranian forces are on the ground.

The United States has been reluctant to send the Syrian opposition anything more than logistical support, mainly because it says the opposition is not unified and has no clear leadership.

Also Sunday, Syrian state media announced the start of large-scale military drills along the country's coast, to practice repelling an attack by sea.

More than 14,000 people, including thousands of civilians, have been killed in the 16 months since the start of the anti-Assad uprising.

Rebels accuse Mr. Assad of being a murderous dictator. Human rights groups say his forces target civilians and are responsible for rape and torture.