US Praises OIC Suspension of Syria

Posted August 16th, 2012 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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The United States has commended the Organization of Islamic Cooperation for suspending Syria from the 57-member bloc.

In a statement after the move, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said the OIC decision sends a “strong message” to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government and shows its increasing international isolation.

The suspension comes as the United Nations Security Council plans to hold a session to discuss the situation in Syria. The mandate for the U.N. observer mission in the country expires Sunday.

U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Damascus that as many as 2.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance because of the violence.

Also Thursday, U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said a bombing of the rebel-controlled northern border town of Azaz by a Syrian warplane killed more than 40 civilians and wounded more than 100 others.

The group visited the site Thursday, a day after the attack, which it said leveled an entire block of houses and may have been targeting two nearby facilities of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

VOA correspondent Scott Bobb was in Azaz interviewing a local rebel commander when a bomb dropped by a Syrian Army MiG fighter Wednesday hit about three blocks away.

“It blew the windows out of the office during the interview, and everyone evacuated. A few minutes later, it appeared that the same MiG made a second pass and dropped another bomb.”

Meanwhile, Syrian envoy Bouthaina Shaaban has praised China and Russia for their response to the crisis in Syria, saying that unlike the West, those countries are not acting like “colonizers.”

Shaaban's comments appeared Thursday in the state-run China Daily newspaper. The adviser to Mr. Assad is due to meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi.

China and Russia have both vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions threatening Syria with sanctions for using heavy weapons against civilians.