Washington, July 28 - Obama administration officials on Wednesday assailed embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad while defending the administration's careful response to the five-month-old uprising in the Arab country.
Assad is a dictator "whose rule relies on terror, theft, and torture," Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs of Jeffrey Feltman told a Congressional hearing of the House Committee on Foreign Affair's Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia Wednesday.
Feltman went further, saying that Assad "can't win" against repeated protests, and assured Congressional members that "the United States has nothing invested in the Bashar Assad regime."
The U.S. government has not called directly for Assad to resign, but a chorus of American officials has recently elevated their condemnation, saying that his 11-year iron-fisted rule of the country has lost all legitimacy.
Some House Democrats and Republicans at the hearing urged the Obama Administration not to mince words about the Syrian crisis.
"The President must call for Assad, that blood-soaked dictator, to step down," ranking member Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-NY said in his opening statement.
But Feltman and Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Michael Posner, also testifying at the hearing, were adamant that the U.S. condemns both Iran and Syria with equally critical views.
Iranian authorities brutally repressed massive street protests after the contested 2009 presidential election there. They have been actively aiding the Syrian regime in its fight for survival against nationwide demonstrations.
"These are two countries that are violating every important international human rights standard," Posner told the subcommittee.
The hearing also touched on the continued repression of the Iranian opposition.
Both Feltman and Posner said: "These are two countries that are violating every important international human rights standard."