WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department on Tuesday called reports of the torture of a 13-year-old Syrian boy horrifying and appalling, describing it as the latest human rights abuse by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
State Department spokesman Mark Toner also largely dismissed a general amnesty issued by Assad after 10 weeks of anti-government protests seeking to end his 11-year rule, saying Assad's promise of reforms has been all talk but no action.
The New York Times reported on Monday that an online video showed a 13-year-old boy, arrested at a protest on April 29, who it said had been tortured, mutilated and killed before his body was returned to his family.
"We are aware of that story and it's indeed horrifying," Toner said, calling it "another case of the ongoing human rights abuses that we have seen carried out by Syrian forces."
"That case in particular is appalling and we believe that Syria should be held accountable for these and other human rights abuses."
Asked about a Syrian state television announcement that Assad had issued a general amnesty covering "all members of political movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, Toner said: "He has talked reform but we have seen very little in the way of action ... he needs to take steps -- concrete steps, not rhetoric -- to address what is going on in the country."