White House Blasts Syrian Government
Defends protesters; threatens 'targeted sanctions'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Apr 25, 2011 12:59 PM CDT
This video image shows a tank in Daraa, Syria Monday April 25, 2011.   (AP Photo/Sham News Network via APTN)
camera-icon View 1 more image

(Newser) – The National Security Council has condemned the “brutal violence” launched by Syria’s government against protesters, NPR reports. The crackdown is “completely deplorable and we condemn it in the strongest possible terms,” said an official statement. In response, “the United States is pursuing a range of possible policy options, including targeted sanctions.” Officials voiced support for the protesters, whose “call for freedom of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and the ability to freely choose their leaders must be heard.”

Though the crackdown in Syria continued today, tensions appear to be on the rise in Syria’s army, as soldiers increasingly oppose violence against the protesters. Some soldiers in Daraa refused to fire on demonstrators. It's not the first report of such a refusal, and a number of military officials have apparently been assassinated after reportedly taking the protesters’ side. A division in the army would “cast serious doubt” on the government’s “ability to survive,” writes Nicholas Blanford in the Christian Science Monitor.