White House: ‘No signs yet’ that Syria will end violence on refugees

The White House said Monday there have been “no signs yet” that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces would stop their attacks as part of a proposed peace plan that’s supposed to begin Tuesday, as violence reportedly spilled over the Turkish border.

The Obama administration remains opposed to arming the Syrian opposition, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday, resisting calls from some in Congress to take a more active role in Syria.

ADVERTISEMENT
Assad’s government forces are supposed to withdraw from major cities Tuesday and halt all violence by Thursday under a six-point peace plan from U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan that Assad had agreed to.

But the continued violence Monday — as well as new demands from Assad for opposition forces to provide written guarantees they will lay down their arms — put the peace plan’s success in jeopardy.

Carney said the Obama administration was “outraged” by reports that the Syrian military had fired on refugees in Turkey.

“We condemn all the attacks that have been launched, the brutal violence against the Syrian people, and we certainly have seen no signs yet of the Assad regime abiding by its commitments, which is obviously quite unfortunate,” Carney said at Monday’s White House press briefing.

Carney said the administration remains opposed to providing military aid to the opposition, and it is awaiting Annan’s assessment of the situation in Syria after Tuesday’s deadline.

“Our position on providing military aid has not changed,” Carney said. “We do not believe it is at this time the right approach because further militarization would potentially have negative consequences.”

Carney said the administration is “providing humanitarian assistance and working with humanitarian partners to provide other forms of non-lethal assistance to the opposition.

“We are working at helping the opposition organize and unify,” he said.

Some in Congress, particularly Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have criticized the Obama administration for not doing more in Syria.

McCain has called for a U.S.-led international coalition to launch air strikes to help the opposition, similar to the way the United States helped oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

McCain and Lieberman are currently in Turkey during the congressional recess, and they met with the Syrian National Council and other opposition leaders, McCain tweeted.

The senators also met with Turkish President Abdullah Gül, with whom McCain said they had a “positive and frank discussion on the Syrian crisis.”