Syria tells U.S. to butt out

May 20, 2011 at 11:59 AM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, May 20 (UPI) -- U.S. pressure targeting Syrian President Bashar Assad won't influence the country's independent right to make decisions, an official said from Damascus.

Assad and members of his inner circle are the target of European and U.S. sanctions in response to Syria's brutal crackdown of a sweeping protest movement. An estimated 1,000 people were killed in Syria in what the government describes as an insurrection.

U.S. President Barack Obama during a Thursday address on U.S. policy in the Middle East suggested Assad was on the wrong side of history.

"The Syrian regime has chosen the path of murder and the mass arrests of its citizens," said Obama.

A source in the government was quoted by the official Syrian Arab News Agency as saying Washington should respect the country's independence and stop doing the bidding of Israel.

"These measures have not influenced and will not influence Syria's independent decision or its steadfastness against the American repeated attempts to dominate its national decision, nor will they influence its determination to achieve comprehensive reform," the source stressed.

The same source said U.S. policy in the region was hypocritical given its track record of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Libya. U.S. action, the source said, "has nothing to do with respecting human rights."

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