White House condemns Syrian execution of more than 100 people
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest made the statements during a press conference on Sunday aboard Air Force One as President Obama traveled to Ohio State University to deliver a commencement address for the class of 2013. Earnest said the violators of humanitarian law must be held accountable.
"We're horrified by the reports that more than 100 people were executed on May 2, in al-Bayda, reportedly by regime forces, including the Shabiha," Earnest said. "Those responsible for serious violations of international humanitarian law and serious violations and abuses of human rights law must be held accountable. As Bashar al-Assad continues to cling to power, we will not lose sight of the men, women and children who are being killed by his regime."
Earnest said he had no comment on reports about Israel's recent involvement in the Syrian civil war after a new round of attacks. He did say, however, that President Obama has commented many times that Israel has the right to take necessary protective actions.
"(During a Saturday interview with Telemundo), the President (noted) that the Israelis are justifiably concerned about the threat posed by Hezbollah obtaining these advanced weapon systems," Earnest said. "And the President many times has talked about his view that Israel, as a sovereign government, has the right to take the actions they feel are necessary to protect their people."
When asked if President Obama was concerned that the Syrian civil war might be used as a cover for terrorist groups like Hezbollah to transfer weapons, Earnest said the possibility was one of the reasons the U.S. is working to find an end to the conflict.
"The President has talked about his concern that there might be some extremist elements who would take advantage of the chaos and the instability to lay the groundwork for other acts of violence," Earnest said. "So the President has acknowledged that threat, and it's certainly one of the many reasons that the United States is working with our international partners to try to find a way to bring this bloodshed to an end and ensure a transition to a government in Syria that actually reflects the will of the Syrian people."