News / Middle East

Arab League Monitors to Prepare Report on Syria

Members of the Arab League hold a meeting on Syria in Cairo, Egypt, January 8, 2012.
Members of the Arab League hold a meeting on Syria in Cairo, Egypt, January 8, 2012.

Arab League monitors are preparing to report on the situation in Syria, after a one-month mission to observe the government's efforts to implement a plan aimed at stopping its bloody crackdown on a 10-month uprising.

The mandate for the monitor mission expires Thursday, and Arab League foreign ministers are scheduled to meet Sunday to review the observers' final report and decide what to do next.

An Arab League monitor told VOA he expects the mission will be extended, because withdrawing the monitors would create an unwanted vacuum.  He said their presence at least "keeps the status quo."

Syrian rights groups have criticized the mission's effectiveness.  They say President Bashar al-Assad has deceived the monitors and escalated deadly attacks since the observers arrived on December 26.

Qatar's ruling emir has called for Arab troops to be deployed in Syria to stop Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on protesters who want an end to his 11-year autocratic rule.  Syria has rejected the idea.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei 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.

On the ground in Syria, opposition activists said Thursday government troops have pulled back from the besieged rebel-held town of Zabadani, near the Lebanese border.  Syrian tanks and armored vehicles had surrounded the town for days and engaged in days of fighting with army defectors.

An Arab League monitor told VOA he was optimistic about the ceasefire in Zabadani, saying it was the first positive step he had seen.

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

European Union foreign ministers are due to meet 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 the Iranian-backed Lebanese militant group Hezbollah are providing material support to the Assad government. Iran and Hezbollah have denied the accusations.

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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
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 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 Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs