News

Activists: Syrian Troops Kill 27 Civilians

Handout photo released by the Syrian opposition Shaam News Network on April 25, 2012, shows a shop destroyed during a Syrian government offensive in the city of Duma.
Handout photo released by the Syrian opposition Shaam News Network on April 25, 2012, shows a shop destroyed during a Syrian government offensive in the city of Duma.

Syrian activists say security forces have killed at least 27 civilians in attacks across Syria, as France called for a small U.N. truce-monitoring team in the country to be expanded rapidly.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government shelling of the central city of Hama killed at least 12 people on Wednesday. Activists say Syrian troops also shelled the Damascus suburb of Douma, while suspected government snipers in the district killed two people. Elsewhere, the Observatory says Syrian rebels killed three government soldiers in a battle in the southern province of Daraa.

Casualty figures could not be independently confirmed.

Four more observers joined the unarmed U.N. team trying to monitor the shaky cease-fire in Syria's year-long conflict, expanding it to 15 personnel. Activists say several of them visited Douma on Wednesday, while two remained in Hama and two others kept a base in the nearby city of Homs. All three areas have been centers of the 13-month uprising against autocratic Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said the U.N.-backed truce that took effect on April 12 has been "seriously compromised" by recent violence. He called on the United Nations to significantly expand the observer team in Syria in the next 15 days to the full contingent of 300 personnel authorized by the Security Council.

Juppe also said international envoy Kofi Annan's next report on cease-fire compliance to be presented to the Security Council on May 5 will be a "moment of truth." Speaking after meeting Syrian opposition figures in Paris, Juppe said that if the Syrian government keeps defying the truce, France will seek to punish Damascus by drafting a "Chapter Seven" Security Council resolution that could be enforced militarily.

Russia and China have twice vetoed Western and Arab-backed Security Council resolutions calling for punitive action against Mr. Assad's government for violently suppressing the revolt.

The Syrian government says it is committed to the cease-fire and other elements of Mr. Annan's peace plan, but reserves the right to defend itself against "armed terrorists" whom it accuses of driving the unrest.

In other violence on Wednesday, Syrian activists said government troops fired on a bus in the northern province of Idlib, killing four people. Syria's state-run SANA news agency said security forces killed one "terrorist" in Idlib province after stopping an "attempted infiltration" of armed militants from Turkey.  It is unclear if the SANA report was referring to the same incident as the shooting on the bus.

Meanwhile, diplomats said the U.N. Security Council plans to appoint Norwegian Major General Robert Mood as head of the full observer team in Syria. Middle East expert Joshua Landis, who lived in Syria, said  that many Syrians do not have faith that the U.N. mission will resolve the unrest.

"All the Syrians I know are very distraught.  They are very worried.  Even those who support the regime - and I know a fair number who do - they can't see anything good coming out of this.  They are getting angrier at Bashar. On the other hand, they don't like the opposition," Landis said.

The Washington Post said Wednesday that Syria's cash reserves are quickly dwindling as a result of international sanctions. Landis, however, said the international community should not expect Assad to resign, despite mounting economic pressure and the increasing presence of U.N. monitors.

"He's gaining a few more days of his life.  The moment he gives up, he's going to be a dead man. He's going to be hung from the yardarm along with a lot of people around him.  So, he's fighting for his life," Landis said.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's crackdown on the uprising, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

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.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: MARTENLI
April 29, 2012 4:29 AM
This time let China and Russia get involved. Not America.
America is not a watch man around the world.
Syria is terrorists training places many many years.

by: Michael
April 25, 2012 8:20 PM
How many lives does it take for the UN to respond to this kind of massacre? This leaves little hope for countries next in line for such violence...

by: raym
April 25, 2012 6:27 PM
Where is that Blab - Erdogan, who wanted to help syrians, He speaks to much but no real help at all.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs