News

More UN Observers Arrive as Syrian Cease-fire Continues Unraveling

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 government tanks and artillery pounded the Damascus suburb of Douma Wednesday, as an almost two-week old cease-fire continues to unravel. Four more U.N. observers have also arrived in the Syrian capital, despite comments by international envoy Kofi Annan that prospects for the cease-fire working are "bleak."

Syrian security forces reportedly opened fire on a minibus at a checkpoint in Idlib province near the Turkish border Wednesday, killing four civilians.

Syrian government tanks have attacked several Damascus suburbs, including Douma, within the past 24 hours, amid intermittent shelling and mortar fire.

Syrian state TV says four more U.N. observers, two from China, one from Indonesia and one from Ghana, arrived to join an 11-member team already at work. Opposition activists complain that government troops have been attacking towns just after the U.N. observers visit them.  

Syria says it reserves the right to attack what it calls "armed terrorists."

But U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan told the Security Council Tuesday that reported government attacks on Hama after the observers had visited on Monday were “totally unacceptable and reprehensible.”

Mr. Annan's spokesman, Ahmed Fawzi, told the council that the U.N. had reports that people who have spoken with the observers may be “harassed or even worse killed,” by the Syrian army or security forces. He said, however, that the cease-fire must be made to work. "We have used all the words in the dictionary: it's fragile, it's shaky, it's precarious, it's risky. But, it's all we have at the moment and it underscores the need to deploy our monitors as quickly as possible," he said.

In Damascus, Deputy Syrian Foreign Minister Faisal al Miqdad blamed Western and Arab countries for causing the failure of the cease-fire.

He says that some Western and Arab countries don't want the Annan plan to succeed and their leaders say it will fail because they hate Syria and want to see more bloodshed, so they arm terrorists and flout the Annan plan, while Syria is respecting all of its clauses.

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, says the Syrian government is trying to crush the popular uprising with brute force. "The only language that the Syrian regime understands is the use of force. The regime feels that they have a holiday, that they are entitled to do the only thing they do best, (which) is the use of force, because there is no counter-force to deter them," he said.

Analyst Riad Kahwaji of the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis argues that the Syrian government feels it can act with impunity. "The Syrian regime is not willing to reconsider its policy of using the security solution for the current conflict and still very much believes that it can rely on its allies Iran and Russia to prevent an international intervention that could lead to the toppling of the regime," he said.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's 13-month crackdown on the revolt, 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: Sky man
April 25, 2012 11:05 AM
How many terrorists the syrian government has killed,as the brainless Assad
declares that he is fightinf terrorists?Can he present the list of terrorists
to world community?No doubt this bloody butcher will be removed.But how many syrians must be killed else before he is smashed.We all share responsibility for his villainous crimes.

by: Gab to Roger Henderson
April 25, 2012 10:38 AM
While you are a good man and well meaning, what is in it for the USA. We are always criticized by the world for marching into other Countries. Where are our biggest critics? Where is Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Iran. Where is the African Union that supported Qaddafi? Where is the League of Arabian Nations? Where is the 57 Islamic Countries that vote as a bloc at the United Nations General Counsel? Where are the Syrian people's allies, specifically Iran?

by: Roger Henderson
April 25, 2012 9:06 AM
Truce? Truce? What idiot would call what is happening in Syria a truce? This is genocide being committed by the Assad Regime against civilians. The world needs to make a choice watch the slaughter of Syrian civilians each night on TV or use force to end the reign of terror by the Assad Regime and bring him to trial at The Hague for Crimes against Humanity.

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