Syrian President Says Security Forces Made Mistakes

May 18, 2011

Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, says Syrian security troops have made mistakes in the past several weeks as officers crush a civilian uprising, according to AP, which obtained the comments from the Syrian al-Watan newspaper.

The UN estimates at least 850 people have died in the bloody crackdown against those protesting the Assad government and thousands of others have been arrested, many without charge.

There are reports of new attacks in the town of Tel Kelakh, according to al Jazeera, and the deaths of 27 people. The BBC cites Syrian refugees who say they escaped 'great violence' by fleeing into Lebanon. NPR cannot confirm the report; Syria is not permitting foreign journalists into the country.

Switzerland says it backs the European Union decision to impose sanctions on Syria, and imposed an arms sales embargo on the country. Despite the growing turmoil, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says he doesn't like international interference in Syrian affairs. Russia abstained from the UN vote backing military action against Libya. Now he says Russia won't vote for any resolution on Syria at the United Nations, "even if my friends are going to beg me to", according to Russia's RIA Novosti.

Reuters and AP are reporting the U.S. will impose sanctions on Syrian leaders for human rights abuses. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit