News / Middle East

Activists Say Syria Rebels Raid Homs, Create Council in East

Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in a street in Homs March 9, 2013.Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in a street in Homs March 9, 2013.
x
Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in a street in Homs March 9, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters stand by their weapons in a street in Homs March 9, 2013.
Syrian opposition activists say rebels have put more pressure on President Bashar al-Assad, launching an offensive to retake a former rebel stronghold in central Syria and establishing a religious council in the east. 
 
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels stormed the Baba Amr district of the central city of Homs on Sunday, about a year after government forces drove them out in a month-long battle that killed hundreds of people. Assad had visited Baba Amr last March to mark that victory and promised to rehabilitate the devastated neighborhood. 
 
Activists said Assad's forces responded fiercely to the new rebel advance, shelling and striking Baba Amr from the air. Days earlier, Syrian troops had intensified operations to oust rebels from other Homs districts such Khaldiyeh. The activists said rebels infiltrated Baba Amr to try to relieve pressure on those enclaves. 
 
The Observatory said Islamist rebels also have proclaimed a new religious council in eastern Syria as part of the two-year-old uprising against President Assad's 12-year autocratic rule. 
 
An opposition video uploaded to YouTube on Saturday appears to show an Islamist convoy draped with black flags driving through an eastern town and attaching a banner to a building, declaring the creation of the regional council. The Observatory said the Islamist council intends to exert control over judicial and police affairs. 
 
Earlier this month, rebels captured the eastern city of Raqqa, the first Syrian provincial capital to fall into rebel hands since the rebellion started. Videos posted to the Internet on Saturday purportedly showed the al-Qaida linked Jabhat al-Nusra Front interrogating two of Assad's representatives in Raqqa, the provincial governor and the local head of the ruling Baath party. 
 
Other YouTube footage from Raqqa showed what appeared to be the aftermath of a retaliatory government air strike on Saturday. At least seven bodies could be seen on a bombed-out street. 
 
Elsewhere, the Observatory said residents of the northern city of Aleppo pulled at least 20 bodies from a river on Sunday. It was the second discovery of a mass dumping of bodies in the river since January. 
 
The Syrian government does not see itself as the target of a popular revolution and consistently claims to be fighting foreign-backed terrorists. 
 
In another development, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said the flood of Syrians fleeing the country's civil war has intensified rapidly in recent months, rising from 3,000 a day in December to 8,000 a day last month. 
 
"This shows you the staggering escalation that we are witnessing. Now if this escalation goes on - and nothing happens to solve the problem - we might have in the end of the year a much larger number of refugees, two or three times the present level," he said.
 
The United Nations said last week the number of Syrian refugees has risen to an estimated one million people, with most concentrated in Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan. 
 
Guterres said Sunday about 400,000 Syrians are believed to be in Turkey. He was speaking on a visit to the Turkish capital Ankara to coordinate assistance to the refugees.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

WHO: Anti-Ebola Efforts Should Focus on West Africa

Official says WHO is 'reasonably confident' countries bordering those hardest hit by the Ebola outbreak are not seeing the virus crossing their borders More

South Sudan Crisis Threatens Development

Economic costs and lost development opportunities in South Sudan have erased what little progress the country has made since independence in 2011 More

Ukrainian PM Warns: Russia May Try to Disrupt Sunday Poll

Arseniy Yatsenyuk orders full security mobilization for parliamentary election to prevent ‘terrorist acts’ from being carried out More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid