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

Video Positive Messaging Helps Revamp Ethiopia's Image

In country once connected with war, poverty, famine, headlines now focus on fast-growing economy, diplomatic reputation More

Russian Activist Thinks Kremlin Ordered Nemtsov's Death

Alexei Navalny says comments of Russian liberals who think government wasn't involved are 'nonsense.' More

Video Land Disputes Rise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers 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.
NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planeti
X
George Putic
March 04, 2015 8:51 PM
NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.
Video

Video Land Disputes Arise Amid Uganda Oil Boom

Ugandan police say there has been a sharp increase in land disputes, with 10 new cases being reported each day. The claims come amid an oil boom as investors appear to be cashing in by selling parcels of land to multiple buyers. Meanwhile, the people who have been living on the land for decades are chased away, sometimes with a heavy hand. VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
Video

Video In Russia, Many Doubt Opposition Leader's Killer Will Be Found

The funeral has been held in Moscow for Boris Nemtsov, the opposition leader who was assassinated late Friday just meters from the Kremlin. Nemtsov joins a growing list of outspoken critics of Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin who are believed to have been murdered for their work. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Simulated Astronauts Get Taste of Mars, in Hawaii

For generations, people have dreamed of traveling to Mars to explore Earth's closest planetary neighbor. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that while space agencies like NASA are planning manned missions to the planet, some volunteers in Hawaii are learning how humans will cope with months in isolation on a Mars base.
Video

Video Destruction of Iraq Artifacts Shocks Archaeologists

The city of Mosul was once one of the most culturally rich and religiously diverse cities in Iraq. That tradition is under attack by members of the Islamic State who have made Mosul their capital city. The Mosul Museum is the latest target of the group’s campaign of terror and destruction, and is of grave concern to archaeologists around the world. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More