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U.S. Condemns Attack On Syrian Cartoonist

Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat, photographed at a hospital in Damascus.

The United States has accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime of being behind the beating of Syria's best-known satirical cartoonist.

Ali Ferzat, 60, was reportedly attacked by masked gunmen who beat him and injured his hands early August 25 after he left his studio.

Ferzat, who had recently published cartoons seen as critical of Assad, has been hospitalized over his wounds.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, in a written statement, said "the regime's thugs focused their attention on Ferzat's hands, beating them furiously and breaking one of them" in what she called "a clear message that he should stop drawing."

The statement called the attack "disgusting and deplorable," and added that the Syrian regime has imprisoned at least five other prominent dissidents.

The U.S. and its European allies last week called for President Assad to resign.

Human rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed more than 2,000 people in a crackdown against protests that erupted in mid-March.

compiled from agency reports