US blasts Syria's 'escalation' of violence
WASHINGTON - The United States on Tuesday accused Syria of having intensified attacks against its people before Arab observers arrived in the country to monitor a deal to end nine months of deadly violence.
"It was a horrible situation where the violence spiked over the course of several days. We obviously condemn this escalation of violence," State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
"The regime used the last several days as an opportunity to escalate their attacks on several ... neighborhoods in Homs and other cities prior to the deployment of these monitors," he added.
"These actions are not consistent with the terms of the Arab League initiative that the Syrian regime agreed to on November 2 or the protocol on observers that the regime agreed to on December 19," Toner said.
The observer mission is part of an Arab plan endorsed by Syria on November 2 that calls for the withdrawal of security forces from towns and residential districts, a halt to violence against civilians and the release of detainees.
Since signing the deal, President Bashar al-Assad's regime has been accused of intensifying its crackdown, which has shown no signs of abating since it erupted in March and which the UN says has killed more than 5,000 people.
Toner expressed hope that the monitors would be able to do their work.
"We obviously look to these individuals to be intrepid in their search for the truth of what's happening on the ground," he said.
He said the United States "would ... demand that the Syrian authorities allow them full access to the Syrian people in order to carry out their mission."