US embassy official says Syria attack is 'desperation'

31st July 2011, Comments 0 comments

An official at the US embassy in Damascus said the Syrian military's deadly attack on the flashpoint protest city of Hama on Sunday amounted to "full-on warfare" and was a "last act of utter desperation".

JJ Harder, the press attache at the embassy, told the BBC World Service that "there is one big armed gang in Syria, and it's named the Syrian government".

More than 90 people were killed on Sunday as the Syrian military launched an attack on Hama on the eve of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a human rights activist said.

Speaking to the BBC World Service's Newshour programme, Harder said: "I think we can safely say it's full-on warfare by the Syrian government on its own people."

He said: "This full-on warfare in which the government is engaged in today, I think, amounts to nothing less than a last act of utter desperation.

"They're killing their own people, they're sending their tanks into their own cities. It's ridiculous."

Asked if he accepted the Syrian government's contention that its forces were up against armed gangs, Harder said: "There is one big armed gang in Syria and it's named the Syrian government.

"That's the armed gang that is pillaging its own cities, that's the armed gang that is striking terror into the hearts of a lot of these people who are out there who just want to peacefully protest."

Harder also described the "disparate groups" who currently made up the Syrian government, and said US officials were never quite sure who was in charge.

"The government is not exactly a cohesive, coherent unit but rather a group of disparate groups within the government itself," he said.

"We don't know who we are talking to half the time, we don't know who speaks for the government.

"On one hand you have a purported reform movement.. and then you have warfare, then you have full-on attacks of Hama and Deir Ezzor (in the east), it just doesn't make any sense."

© 2011 AFP

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