Syrian troops have killed thousands in their attempts to put down a surge of rebellion against President Bashar Assad, United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Thursday. “We think to date the government is responsible for the deaths of more than 2,000 people of all ages,” she told reporters.
Just hours later, residents of the Syrian city of Hama reported that 45 people have been killed by Syrian soldiers in the past two days.
Clinton's statements were made following a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird. She appealed for a “louder, more effective” international response to violence in Syria.
“Not just U.S. sanctions because, frankly, we do not have a lot of business with Syria,” she said. “We need to get Europeans and others [involved]. We need to get Arab states. We need to get a much louder, more effective chorus of voices that are putting pressure on the Assad regime, and we're working to obtain that.”
Baird agreed and expressed disappointment in United Nations' decision not to give a mandate for international action in Syria similar to that in Libya. “The actions in Syria, the actions of the Assad regime, are obviously abhorrent.... Regrettably, we don't have the same kind of international support at the UN for this. So I think that in the absence of that, what we've got to continue to do is work with like-minded allies.”
Syrian state media described the action in Hama as “restoring security, stability, and normal life to Hama after a group of terrorists carried out acts of terrorism and murder.” Syria accused rebel “terrorists” of attacking police stations and military posts, killing 10 and wounding more.
Iran and Hizbullah are reportedly helping to quell protests.
Video footage apparently filmed by rebels in Hama showed violence against security officers, with one particularly graphic video showing a crowd dismembering the naked body of an army officer in Dir Az-Zour to cries of “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is great). The body showed signs of extreme violence.
Rebels in Hama are also accused of murdering civilians in an attack on the city's central bus station in late July.