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Reports from the Syrian city of Homs say government forces have withdrawn some, but not all, of their tanks and armored personnel carriers from a flashpoint district as Arab League monitors visit parts of the city.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A witness in Bab Amr told Al Hurra TV earlier Tuesday that government forces had not completely withdrawn from the area.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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic 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.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid