News

UN's Annan Leaves Syria Empty-Handed

UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan reads a statement after his meeting with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, March 11, 2012.

U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has left Damascus without securing a deal to end Syria's nearly yearlong conflict. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's troops continued to pound opposition areas, clashing with rebels throughout the country.

The former U.N. secretary-general said Sunday he left several proposals with Syrian officials and that he remains "optimistic" about the possibility of a resolution after a second round of talks with Mr. Assad. But he said ending the violence will be "tough."

Annan said he called for an immediate halt to the killings and that he urged the Syrian government to "embrace change and reform" as part of a political solution to its deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising. He appealed to Mr. Assad to heed an old African proverb that says: "You cannot turn the wind, so turn the sail."

Syrian state media said Mr. Assad told Annan that a political solution is impossible as long as "terrorist groups" threaten the country. Identical comments were reported after the two met Saturday.

Syria's main exiled opposition group also rejected talks with the government. The Syrian National Council said negotiations can never take place between a "victim and torturer," and it demanded that Mr. Assad and his aides step down before a dialogue can begin.

Annan flew to Qatar Sunday to meet that country's emir, a leading critic of the Syrian government who has called for arming the rebels.

As their talks took place in Damascus, Syria's military continued an offensive on rebel strongholds in the north. Activists reported that several areas were attacked, including in and around Idlib, Hama and Homs, as well as Daraa in the south.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says fighting Sunday killed at least 25 civilians and five soldiers. Activists said at least 90 people were killed in nationwide unrest a day earlier, many of them in Idlib.

Also Sunday, Syria's state news agency said gunmen killed local boxing champion Gheyath Tayfour in the northern city of Aleppo. Opposition fighters associated with the rebel Free Syrian Army have claimed responsibility for some of the assassinations that have become more frequent in the city, including those of prominent businessmen they say support Mr. Assad.

Photo Gallery

International rifts have paralyzed action on Syria. Russia and China blocked two U.N. Security Council resolutions on the Syrian crisis in recent months, saying they were biased against the Assad government.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, in New York Monday when the Security Council holds a special meeting on Arab revolts, with Syria likely to be in focus. Washington is pressing the Council to adopt a resolution calling on Syria to let aid workers reach civilians affected by the government crackdown.

The United Nations says Mr. Assad's forces have killed more than 7,500 people since the crackdown on protesters and insurgents began last year. Authorities say rebels have killed 2,000 soldiers during that time.

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.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Power
March 13, 2012 3:10 AM
Control of the Army enables absolute power over the civillian population. Old African proverbs are of little meaning or consequence
and the loss of life is indicative of this. Reform is not on the agenda.

by: Godwin
March 12, 2012 1:31 AM
What did he intend to achieve before? With the support of Russia, China and Iran, Assad is on top of the world. Living in the colony of vampires which the Middle East is, supported by the blood thirsty trio of Russia, China and Iran - all of which know no other way to suppress decent except by brutal force, Annan's trip was mission impossible. But the trio provide the world an alternative to true democracy - LETHAL DEMOCRACY based on survival of the fittest.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs