Ambassador says US response to Syria 'very stern'

March 31, 2012 - 6:25 PM

DENVER (AP) — The U.S. Ambassador to Syria reiterated the Obama administration's approach to the conflict in Syria in remarks Saturday to Amnesty International.

Ambassador Robert Ford said the administration has been "very stern" toward Syrian President Bashar Assad's military and security apparatus.

On Friday, the administration added Assad's defense minister and two other senior officials to a blacklist that freezes any assets they may have in U.S. jurisdictions.

"We put these three individuals on the list because we have clear information and evidence that they are personally responsible for human rights abuses and oppression against the protesters," Ford said Saturday at Amnesty International's annual general meeting in Denver.

The Denver Post reports that Ford said Assad has a short amount of time to stop the violence under a UN special envoy (http://goo.gl/ZetQ0 ).

"We are not particularly interested in anything Assad says," Ford said. "We are interested in what he does on the ground."

Ford was forced to withdraw from Syria in February following an attack on the embassy.

The conference also heard from three American hikers detained in Iran — Sarah Shourd, Shane Bauer, and Josh Fattal.

As they have before, the jailed hikers called solitary confinement a form of torture and called on the U.S. to lead the world by banning its use.