Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had harsh words for the Assad regime at a Friends of Syria conference with opposition figures and allied foreign ministers in Tunisia today.
She also announced $10 million in immediate humanitarian aid for desperate Syrian civilians that has no guarantee of making it inside the country.
And Clinton also made a veiled threat to Moscow over its arms sales to Damascus.
“You will pay a heavy cost for ignoring the will of the international community and violating the human rights of your people,” Clinton said to the Assad regime in her remarks, going on to address the regime’s followers: “The longer you carry out its campaign of violence, the more it will stain your honor. But if you refuse to take part in attacks on your fellow citizens, your countrymen will hail you as heroes.”
She said the aid targeted toward both those inside the country and refugees recognizes that “conditions in Syria are dire and getting worse.”
“We cannot wait for this crisis to become an even greater catastrophe,” she said in announcing the $10 million. “This is not the end. The United States will provide more humanitarian support in coming days.”
“If the Assad regime refuses to allow this life-saving aid to reach civilians, it will have even more blood on its hands,” Clinton added.
“So too will those nations that continue to protect and arm the regime,” she said in a jab at Russia, which has boosted its arms sales to Syria and refused an invitation to the Tunisia conference. “We call on those states that are supplying weapons to kill civilians to halt immediately.”
Clinton said the U.S. supports a democratic transition backed by the Arab League and being mapped out by the Syrian National Council, whose leadership and membership is composed of independents, nationalists, Muslim Brotherhood, Christians, Kurds and other minority groups.
“Now I recognize that some inside Syria, especially members of its minority communities, are worried about what comes after Assad. We know that they have much more to fear from his continued rule, but their concerns are understandable,” she said. “So I urge this gathering to send a strong message that the world will not tolerate the replacement of one form of tyranny with another. We will resolutely oppose acts of vengeance and retribution. And we will support a managed transition that leads to a new Syria where the rights of every citizen are respected and protected, not to chaos.”