Last Updated: Wed Aug 01, 2012 22:34 pm (KSA) 19:34 pm (GMT)

U.S. denounces Assad as ‘cowardly’ for urging troops to fight on

Free Syrian Army fighters take a break from fighting with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo. (Reuters)
Free Syrian Army fighters take a break from fighting with forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad in downtown Aleppo. (Reuters)

The United States Wednesday denounced Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as “cowardly” and “despicable” for calling on his forces to continue the fight against opposition rebels.

“We think it’s cowardly quite frankly to have a man who’s hiding out of sight be exhorting his armed forces to continue to slaughter the civilians of his own country,” said a U.S. State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell.

“We think it’s despicable to be exhorting his armed forces to continue this slaughter, and this bloodshed,” Ventrell said, reacting to a speech by Assad published by Syria’s official news agency SANA.

Earlier Wednesday Assad said that the Syrian army was engaged in a “crucial and heroic battle... on which the destiny of the nation and its people rests” in a speech marking the 67th anniversary of the army.

“The enemy is among us today, using agents to destabilize the country, the security of its citizens... and continues to exhaust our economic and scientific resources,’ Assad said.

Damascus does not recognize the popular revolt that erupted in March 2011, describing opposition activists and rebels of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) alike as “armed terrorist groups” financed by foreign powers and sent to sow chaos.

Meanwhile, videos apparently showing rebels killing supporters of President Assad in Aleppo prove that both sides in the conflict violate human rights, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on Wednesday.

“The harsh massacre of supporters of the government by the opposition confirms human rights violations are taking place on both sides,” Gatilov said on twitter.

“It would be useful if Western and Arab politicians looked at the situation in Syria from this angle too. Everybody must stop violence,” he added.

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