News / Middle East

    Airstrikes Killed 43 in N. Syria, Activists Say

    Residents try to extinguish damaged buildings on fire after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Erbeen, near Damascus, October 18, 2012.
    Residents try to extinguish damaged buildings on fire after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Erbeen, near Damascus, October 18, 2012.
    VOA News
    Syrian activists and medical officials say a series of government air strikes on rebel areas in the country's north has killed at least 43 people, including many children.

    The activists said the strikes happened late Wednesday and early Thursday and hit five areas in Idlib and Aleppo provinces, including the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan which is strategically located along the Damascus-Aleppo highway. The road connects Syria's two largest cities.

    Insurgents who have been attempting to cut the Syrian Army’s supply lines to Aleppo took control of Maaret al-Numan earlier this month.

    Graphic video of the strikes posted online show leveled buildings and survivors pulling bodies from the debris. Activist claims and video could not be independently verified.

    The bombings come as international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi repeated calls for a temporary cease-fire he says could form the basis for a real truce in the war-torn country. A United Nations spokesman said Brahimi will arrive in Damascus on Friday in an attempt to broker the cease-fire.

    Syria Regional Refugee ResponseSyria Regional Refugee Response
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    Syria Regional Refugee Response
    Syria Regional Refugee Response
    The U.N.-Arab League envoy told reporters Thursday after meeting Jordan's foreign minister that a respite in hostilities could build confidence and help bring about a longer truce in the 19-month-old conflict.

    A previous cease-fire in April collapsed after just a few days, with each side blaming the other. Then-mediator Kofi Annan resigned from his post in frustration.

    Forced disappearances

    Meanwhile, a global online activist group is calling attention to thousands of cases of forced disappearances in Syria, saying government security forces and paramilitary groups are using the tactic to terrorize families and communities.

    Avaaz released testimony Thursday from family members of those arrested, detained or abducted in Syria since the crisis began in March of last year. It says it will hand the cases to the United Nations Human Rights Council for investigation.

    A spokesman for the group, Ian Bassin, said the sheer scale of the operation may signal that the government is using the tactic as a tool of intimidation.

    "Imagine the horror of not knowing what has happened to your father, your wife, your brother, your son," said Bassin." They've been taken. You don't know if they're alive or dead, if they're being tortured or in pain, if they'll ever come back again. For a lot of people, the hope that maybe if I stay silent, maybe if I comply and I don't oppose the government, maybe then I'll see my loved one again is a way of keeping the opposition down. And that may be what we're seeing in Syria," he said.

    The organization's report cites human rights groups and lawyers saying at least 28,000 - and as many as 80,000 - people have been forcibly taken.

    Avaaz stopped updating its own totals in July 2011 with just under 3,000 cases, saying the situation on the ground in Syria had made it too difficult to verify the accounts.

    Also Thursday, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said terrorists blew up a gas pipeline and an oil pipeline. It said the explosions happened in the Deir Ezzor area, and quoted an oil ministry official saying repairs to the pipelines would begin soon.

    The Syrian government refers to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as "terrorists."

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    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: RIDave from: U.S.A.
    October 19, 2012 2:50 PM
    Why are the terms used for identifying the people involved with these demonstrations (riots) different in various articles? --------------activists; insurgents, rebels, terrorists, etc, etc, etc,---

    by: Anonymous
    October 18, 2012 10:51 PM
    Broker a cease fire? You've got to be kidding. Assad will never go for that.

    I suggest they broker Assad to give himself up or face international courts.

    Assad has killed nearly 30,000 people, 90% of which were elderly men and women, innocent wives, little boys and girls, and hard working male citizens.

    I think its time a country steps in and puts an end to Assad and his killing spree once and for all. To hell with Russia and China, if they feel "Right" about defending a tyrant mass murderer let it be. We shouldn't be concerned in the slightest about what Russia or China has to say. Do they really think they are defending someone who is innocent? Give it a rest Russia and China.

    by: dale from: santa cruz mountains
    October 18, 2012 4:29 PM
    "the civil war has torn apart the longtime coexistence among ethnic and religious groups under the rule of the secular Baath party of President Bashar Assad and his father before him. "

    Activists (ie foreign armed rebels) are killing anyone who leaves 2 villages in northern Syria, since loyalists are thought to be taking refuge in the villages.

    People who are committing suicide bombings and shooting "anyone" who leaves a village are N0T activists; they are warriors and their reports must be seen as propaganda efforts to suck in more foreign support.

    Why not give the new democratically supported multi-party Constitution a chance? Because the exact goal of this war is to destabilize the fragment the Middle East into warring factions....as a means of intensifying Western influence and control. We did it in Iraq...and they are still blowing each other up; now we are doing it in Syria, and they are still blowing each other up. This descent into sectarian ethnic cleansing is a great success!

    by: Yamani from: Yemen
    October 18, 2012 3:40 PM
    hi Syria, when USA is convinced that a new president is better than Asad, then bye to Asad.

    by: Yamani from: Yemen
    October 18, 2012 3:35 PM
    the word Insurgents in the article means that you still not convinced that what is going on Syria is revolution.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    October 19, 2012 12:57 AM
    Its a "revolution" by Saudi,Gatar,kuwaitis turkies against Syria.

    by: musawi melake
    October 18, 2012 3:14 PM
    Well, these No.s mean nothing as long as there are hundreds of Jihadis born and bread of the western world are willing to travel to Syria to become Martyrs. It's been said that many have already joined the so called rebels. The fact is that these kids as young as 14 to 15 year have been brain-washed by the islamist elements in these countries to be used as cannon fodder, while they themselves enjoy the luxury of Western living standards. It seem the West is turning a blind eye to the developments just because they want their aim of finishing-off Assad is to fast-tracked, but the West may be making the same mistake as its Afghanistan of the 80s, that gave birth to Binladan.

    by: fedlu from: ethiopia
    October 18, 2012 10:56 AM
    really it is bad news...

    by: Anonymous
    October 18, 2012 8:59 AM
    "saying at least 28,000 - and as many as 80,000 - people have been forcibly taken", I think they have exaggerating the figures. Where is the proof to justify these numbers? To say "at least 28000" this "activist group" should present its rationale in arriving at the figures. Or, is this another false claim as part of a one sided propaganda effort?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    October 19, 2012 1:00 AM
    What a shame Libya is... sorry...
    In Response

    by: Libya from: Libya
    October 18, 2012 1:45 PM
    Yes, a dog to Asad stays a dog for ever. Congrates cowrds

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