Monday, September 19, 2011

Defiant ambassador says "change" is under way in Syria

While the United Nations says more than 2,500 people have died in Syria at the hands of the regime, President Bashar al-Assad's point man in the United States says the figure is false and the result of a conspiracy aimed at Damascus.

"These are blatant lies," Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, told CNN's Hala Gorani in an exclusive interview Friday. "This is the problem we are facing today in Syria -- a massive campaign of disinformation and lies."

Since the uprising against the Assad regime began in March, few Western media outlets have been granted permission to report from inside Syria. Those who receive visas find independent reporting difficult, as they operate under tight restrictions and are allowed little freedom of movement.

CNN was granted permission to travel to Syria in June, but with minimal travel outside the watch of government minders.

Over the last six months, most of the world has borne witness to the posting of videos on YouTube and other social media websites purportedly showing the Syrian army fiercely putting down pro-democracy protests. Human Rights Watch has interviewed numerous witnesses who offer consistent accounts of security forces using lethal force against protesters and bystanders -- in most cases without any advance warning. more