By Laura Koran
Syria carried out "egregious human rights violations" last year, according to a State Department assessment released on Thursday that also singled out abuses in Russia and the Ukraine.
The 2013 Human Rights Report, based on assessments from America's embassies abroad, reserved its strongest language for the Syrian government, which allegedly gassed its own people last August in an atrocity linked to the ongoing civil war.
"Hundreds were murdered in the dead of night when a disaster occurred at the hands of a dictator, who decided to infect the air of Damascus with poisonous gas," Secretary of State John Kerry said in presenting the report.
"And many more have been, unfortunately, confined to die under a barrage of barrel bombs, scud missiles, artillery and other conventional weapons," he said.
By Barbara Starr
Russian military exercises near Ukraine are raising concerns that Moscow may be putting troops in position to move across the border if such orders are issued, a senior U.S. official familiar with the most recent administration assessment told CNN Thursday.
But the United States still believes that Russia doesn't plan to order its forces into its tumultuous neighbor, the official said.
U.S. officials - who are monitoring the area 24 hours a day - have not yet seen signs that Russia is preparing to secure supply and transportation routes that would be crucial to any such movement, the official said.
Russian military activity levels observed by the United States also "appear to be within normal range," the official said.FULL STORY