White House blasts "appalling" violence by Syria

In this photo taken during a government-organized visit for media, Syrian army soldiers ride on trucks as they enter villages near the town of Jisr al-Shughour, Syria, Friday, June 10, 2011. Elite Syrian forces moved swiftly through the country's restive north on Friday, raining tank shells on rebellious towns, torching farmland and shooting protesters who tried to tear down a poster of President Bashar Assad, activists and refugees said. AP Photo/Bassem Tellawi

The Obama administration today strongly condemned what it called the "outrageous use of violence" by the Syrian government and demanded an immediate end to its brutality.

A statement issued by the White House Saturday said, "We regret the loss of life and extend our condolences to all those who have suffered.

"Earlier this week, we urged the Syrian government to exercise maximum restraint and not to respond to its own reported losses through additional civilian casualties. The Syrian government is leading Syria on a dangerous path. For that reason, it is critical that all Syrians remain united, work to prevent sectarian conflict, and pursue their aspirations peacefully.

"We stand by the Syrian people who have shown their courage in demanding dignity and the transition to democracy that they deserve."

The White House said that Syrian security forces "continue to shoot, assault and arrest demonstrators, and political prisoners remain detained.

"It's this kind of appalling violence that leads the United States to support a U.N. Security Council Resolution condemning the Syrian government's actions and calling for an immediate halt to the violence and abuse of basic human rights."

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President Bashar Assad is struggling to crush a nearly three-month uprising against his family's 40-year rule. Human rights groups say more than 1,300 people have died in the government crackdown.

Syrian soldiers and police officers who deserted rather than fire on protesters in a restive northern city remained behind to fight against an expected all-out government assault, a resident said. Troops loyal to the regime came under sniper fire Saturday as they approached.

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