US 'outraged' by Syrian attack on refugees
KILIS, Turkey - April 09, 2012 (WPVI) -- The Obama administration is expressing outrage that Syrian troops fired into a refugee camp in neighboring Turkey. It says the cross-border attack coupled with incidents elsewhere bodes ill for a U.N.-brokered plan to end the violence.
One day ahead of a deadline for Syrian forces to withdraw from cities under that plan, the White House and State Department said Monday that instead of improving, the situation was getting worse. They said Syrian President Bashar Assad's government appeared to have little commitment to the plan that was negotiated by former U.N. chief Kofi Annan.
"We certainly have seen no signs yet of the Assad regime abiding by its commitments," White House press secretary Jay Carney said.
"We strongly condemn any attack by the Syrian regime on refugees in bordering countries and were absolutely outraged by today's report," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said. "We join the Turkish government in calling for the Syrian regime to immediately cease fire."
"Not only has the violence not abated, it has been worse in recent days," she said.
There have been similar cross-border attacks into Lebanon, although Monday's shooting was believed to be the first inside Turkey.
Earlier Monday, Syrian forces wounded at least five people in the camp in Turkey. Syrian activists said two people were killed, but the reports could not be immediately confirmed.
The Syrian soldiers were believed to be firing at rebels who tried to escape to the refugee camp after ambushing a military checkpoint, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, citing a network of sources on the ground.
Turkey shelters thousands of refugees who have fled Syria as the government tries to crush a revolt against Assad. The U.N. estimates some 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising began in March 2011.
Nuland said there was no sign the government was removing heavy weaponry from populated areas as called for in the Annan plan. "We see no indication that it is preparing to do so. It's done some moving around of its tanks and artillery, but only so that it can use them in other places."
"We're going to wait till tomorrow; the deadline is tomorrow," she said. "But based on what we're seeing today, we are not hopeful."
Annan is due to report to the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday about the status of the plan.
On Wednesday, Syria is expected to be a major topic of discussion when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton hosts the foreign ministers of the Group of Eight leading industrialized nations meet in Washington. The ministers are meeting to prepare for the G8 leaders' summit to be held at the Camp David presidential retreat next month.
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