The United States has praised the decision by an international Islamic organization to expel Syria for committing "inhuman acts" to suppress a popular revolt against President Bashar Assad's regime.
"The United States commends the [Organization for Islamic Cooperation] for its action and commitment to a peaceful resolution in Syria," State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland said Wednesday.
"Today's action underscores the Assad regime's increasing international isolation and the widespread support for the Syrian people and their struggle for a democratic state that represents their aspirations and respects their human rights."
The decision was made by an OIC summit meeting held this week in the Muslim holy city of Mecca. Iran was the only member of the 57-nation body to speak out against the move.
"[Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi] questioned the haste and urgency in taking action against Syria when it has already declared that it will deliver on reforms, revise its constitution and allow elections," an OIC readout of earlier meetings said.
"He does not think that the approach taken is conducive to resolving the problem but will perhaps complicate it further," the readout added, saying Iran said it did not support the Syrian regime but was against outside "interferences" as a matter of principle.
Iran now remains the sole staunch ally to Syria in the region and the only country that has not called for immediate cessation of violence and condemnation of government cruelties, which continued unabated.
A visiting United Nations official said 1.5 million more Syrians are in need of assistance compared to March of this year.
On Thursday, UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos called on countries to contribute additional aid to Syrian refugees outside the country as well as internally displaced persons.
"Back in March, we estimated that a million people were in need of help. Now as many as 2.5 million are in need of assistance, and we are working to update our plans and our funding requirements," Amos said at a press conference in Damascus.
The UN on Wednesday accused the Syrian government forces of committing war crimes against their own people including the systematic torture and killing of civilians.
This accusation was bolstered by reports of continued violence in the country. Multiple sources state more than 40 civilians were killed and another 100 wounded in the northern border town of Azaz Wednesday after Syrian government planes launched an aerial attack.
The UN Security Council will meet today to discuss the future of monitoring in the country. The global body's monitoring mandate expires at the end of this month and Syria watchers are pessimistic about the body's future there after the UN drastically reduced on-the-ground staff due to safety concerns and UN-Arab League special envoy for Syria Kofi Annan said he would not continue in the position after August.
However, the U.S. and some allies finally see a reduction in power of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which has further deteriorated after several recent high-level defections.
"I'm not prepared here to put a percentage on the amount of territory still controlled by the regime," Nuland told reporters in Washington Wednesday. "But our own view is...that the fight is now for the major cities of Damascus and Aleppo."
Answering a question about a post-Assad Syria, Nuland said, "We are, as an international community, already beginning to look at some of these day-after issues."
"One of the issues is this question of economic support when a democratic government gets back up on its feet. In fact, we have a preliminary conference beginning tomorrow in Berlin on the potential economic needs of a democratic Syria," Nuland added. State Department Syria Envoy will represent the U.S. at those talks.
by RTT Staff Writer
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