Little Action Taken as Syria Massacres Its People

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Thousands have been killed in the Syrian revolt that began 16 months ago, but little has been done to stop them as the international community banks on its requests alone to stop the violence.

The Obama administration has not committed American forces to Syria or set up a no-fly zone to try to stop the killing. Instead, officials from the international community are trying to expose potential massacres before they happen.

"The United States joins Joint Special Envoy Kofi Annan in expressing deep alarm by reports from inside Syria that the regime may be organizing another massacre, this time in the village of al Haffa in Latakia Province, as well as in the towns of Deir el-Zour, in Daraa, in Homs, in Hama, and in suburbs of Damascus," U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's cease-fire plan for Syria has been shattered, not only by the massacres, but by anti-government attacks from the armed opposition. Blue-helmeted U.N. observers travel from town to town, listening to the accounts of atrocities after they occur.

One man, a father fleeing with his family, said he's just trying to get his family away from the violence.

Meanwhile, the international community banks on its pleas to stop the killing.

"We call on all sides to immediately halt all kinds of violence, to ensure the protection of civilians, to allow for their evacuation to safe areas," U.N. spokesperson Sawsan Ghosheh said. "We also call on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and to facilitate the entry of U.N. observers into conflict zones."

So far, Syrian President Bashar Assad has shown little inclination to heed U.N. requests. However, the State Department hopes that threats of a future international investigation might cause the Syrian Army to forestall its plans for further killing.

"And we remind Syrian commanders of one of the lessons from Bosnia," Nuland said. "The international community can and does learn what units were responsible for crimes against humanity. And you will be held responsible for your actions."

One mystery from the Syrian conflict is the relative silence of President Obama. The president spoke out forcefully and on national television against the violence in Libya, and he committed American air support.

But with thousands more dead in Syria, U.S. policy there consists so far of far more talk than action.

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John Waage

CBN News Sr. Editor

John Waage has covered politics and analyzed elections for CBN News since 1980, including primaries, conventions, and general elections. 

He also analyzes the convulsive politics of the Middle East.