News / Middle East

Arab Observers Visit Syria's Flashpoint City of Homs

Image made from amateur video released December 27, 2011, purports to show a woman mourning over a relative who has been killed in Homs, Syria, December 26, 2011.
Image made from amateur video released December 27, 2011, purports to show a woman mourning over a relative who has been killed in Homs, Syria, December 26, 2011.

Reports from the Syrian city of Homs say government forces have withdrawn some, but not all, of their tanks and armored personnel carriers from a flashpoint district as Arab League monitors visit parts of the city. Activists say 70,000 people took to the streets to welcome the observers. 

Tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into the central square in Homs, shouting slogans against the government.

The protesters came out in droves as Arab League observers visited parts of the city, including the embattled district of Bab Amr.

Witnesses reported that sporadic shooting and shelling continued in the district.  A video posted on opposition websites showed vehicles accelerating to avoid gunfire. It is impossible to confirm the authenticity of such videos. Most foreign journalists are not being allowed into Syria.

A cluster of people surround one Arab observer as a man who appears to be a government official tries to distract him.  Witnesses say the man was trying to prevent the monitor from heading to Bab Amr.  Citizens can be heard urging him to go there, as others tell him about recent shelling.

Other videos show a team of observers visiting a badly damaged area, which is identified as Bab Amr.  Voices can be heard telling them about shooting and casualties.

A witness in Bab Amr told Al Hurra TV earlier Tuesday that government forces had not completely withdrawn from the area.

He insists some government tanks have been hidden, and that some soldiers remain, disguised as policemen or civil defense workers.

Other witnesses reported seeing columns of tanks withdrawing from Homs in the direction of the oasis town of Palmyra.

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says the Syrian government is trying to manipulate the Arab observer mission.

He says authorities are trying to prevent the observers from entering the areas worst hit by the crackdown.  He also says that repeated delays in the mission have given the government more time to commit violence.  Abou Diab argues that the Arab League team is “completely at the mercy of the Syrian government” since it has no vehicles of its own, and is understaffed.  

Syrian government television, for its part, claimed that “armed terrorists” attacked government forces near the Turkish border. The government station also said that terrorists blew up a gas pipeline north of Homs.

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

Hong Kong Democracy Calls Spread to Macau

Macau and Hong Kong are China’s two 'special administrative regions' which gives them a measure of autonomy More

After Nearly 2 Years, Pistorius Remains Elusive

Reporter Anita Powell reflects on her experience covering the Olympic athlete's murder trial More

Kenyan Coastal Town Struggles With Deadly June Attacks

Three months after al-Shabab militants allegedly attacked their town, some Mpeketoni residents are still bitter, question who was really behind the assaults 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.
Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africai
X
Luis Ramirez
September 15, 2014 11:01 PM
President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Obama to Ramp Up Anti-Ebola Efforts in Africa

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will unveil his plan to ramp up efforts against the spread of the Ebola virus in Africa. VOA White House Correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid