News / Middle East

    Activists: Syrian Government Agrees to Truce With Rebel-Held Town

    Anti-Syrian regime protesters chant slogans and flash the victory sign as they march during a demonstration at the mountain resort town near the Lebanese border, Zabadani, Syria, January 17, 2012.
    Anti-Syrian regime protesters chant slogans and flash the victory sign as they march during a demonstration at the mountain resort town near the Lebanese border, Zabadani, Syria, January 17, 2012.

    Syrian opposition activists say government forces have agreed to a cease-fire with rebels holding a mountainous town near Damascus and the Lebanese border.

    Activists in Zabadani say rebels of the Free Syrian Army and representatives of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad agreed to the truce late Tuesday after five days of fighting. The deal calls for pro-Assad forces to withdraw from the town and for rebels to leave the streets. There was no confirmation of the cease-fire from the Syrian government.

    Zabadani has been a frequent site of opposition protests since the start of a 10-month-old uprising against Assad's 11-year autocratic rule. Army defectors who have joined the uprising in recent months have engaged in frequent battles with pro-government troops but have not managed to hold territory for a prolonged period.

    Qatar's ruling emir recently became the first Arab leader to call for Arab troops to be deployed in Syria to stop Assad's deadly crackdown on the revolt. Syria has rejected the idea. In a report Wednesday, Syrian state-run newspaper Tishrin accused Qatar of providing money and weapons to armed groups in Syria and demanded a stop to such behavior.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Wednesday any plans to send foreign troops to Syria will not be approved in the U.N. Security Council, where Moscow holds a veto. Russia is a key military ally of Syria.

    Lavrov also said his government continues to sell products to Syria without violating any international laws. He said unilateral sanctions imposed on Syria by the United States and European Union "undermine" collective efforts to resolve the Syrian crisis.

    EU foreign ministers are due to meet on Monday in Brussels to discuss a new round of asset freezes and travel bans on Syrian individuals and companies. British Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday that London will lead the way in tightening EU sanctions against the Syrian president, whom he called a "wretched tyrant."

    Cameron also said there is "growing evidence" that Iran and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are providing material support to the Assad government.

    A ship carrying Russian-made munitions docked in Syria last week. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said Tuesday that Washington has grave concerns about the flow of weapons into Syria and believes an international arms embargo on Damascus is "overdue."

    Russian has submitted a revised draft resolution to the Security Council assigning equal blame for the crisis to the Syrian government and the opposition. Western powers want the Council to condemn and sanction only the Syrian government, a position Russia and China have opposed.

    The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. Syria says "terrorists" have killed about 2,000 members of the security forces since the unrest began.

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

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    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.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora