News / Middle East

Report: Syrian Operation May Be Crime Against Humanity

An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube shows hundreds of thousands of Syrian anti-government protesters flooding the streets of the central city of Hama on July 1, 2011
An image taken from footage uploaded on YouTube shows hundreds of thousands of Syrian anti-government protesters flooding the streets of the central city of Hama on July 1, 2011

Amnesty International says Syrian security forces may have committed crimes against humanity during a deadly operation last month in a town near the Lebanese border.

Citing witness accounts, the London-based rights group accused Syria of rounding up scores of male residents in Talkalakh and torturing most of them, with at least nine people dying in custody.

In a report issued Wednesday, Amnesty said the assault appears to be part of a "widespread, systematic attack against the civilian population," which would constitute crimes against humanity.

The group urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the situation in Syria to the International Criminal Court.

On Tuesday, Syrian government forces opened fire on civilians in the central city of Hama, killing at least 11 people. Activists said the shootings took place after troops moved tanks around the city's outskirts in apparent preparation for an assault.

In response, residents set up dozens of roadblocks and set debris on fire to prevent the advance of tanks currently ringing the town. Hama residents burned tires and trash bins and set up sand barriers and other obstacles to block the expected assault.

Security forces also mounted a second attack Tuesday in northwest Idlib province.

The U.S. and Britain urged Syria to immediately pull its forces from Hama and other cities.

Reuters quoted a French Foreign Ministry spokesman Tuesday as calling on the United Nations Security Council to adopt a firm stance against what he called Syria's "unacceptable, ferocious armed repression."

Hama is one of the centers of opposition to President Bashar al-Assad's 11-year autocratic rule, and was the site of an anti-Assad rally on Friday that drew hundreds of thousands of protesters.

On Monday, soldiers sealed off the city and raided homes there, one month after government forces withdrew. At least 20 people were arrested as part of Syria's ongoing crackdown on dissent.

Unlike its European partners and the U.S., France says Mr. Assad has lost his legitimacy to rule. But a French campaign for U.N. condemnation of the crackdown has met stiff Russian and Chinese resistance.

But Foreign Minister Alain Juppe - who held talks in Moscow last week - said Tuesday there are signs Russia is beginning to question its Syria policy. Juppe said he attempted to sway his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, but that Russia is still threatening to veto any U.N. resolution against Syria.

Rights groups say Syrian security forces have killed at least 1,300 civilians since mid-March while trying to suppress the anti-government uprising. The Syrian government says terrorists and Islamist militants have killed hundreds of security personnel during the same period.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs