News

    Syrian Violence Kills 36; Arab Leaders Back Peace Plan

    Arab leaders prepare to pose for a picture ahead of the opening session of the 23rd Arab League Summit, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 29, 2012.
    Arab leaders prepare to pose for a picture ahead of the opening session of the 23rd Arab League Summit, in Baghdad, Iraq, March 29, 2012.

    Violence across Syria killed at least 36 people - nearly half of them soldiers - as Arab leaders in Baghdad backed a peace plan during a summit focused on resolving the year-long anti-government revolt.

    Syrian state media said Thursday that insurgents kidnapped an Air Force general near Damascus while gunmen shot and killed two army colonels in the northern city of Aleppo. The state news agency SANA blamed the actions on "armed terrorist groups," a reference to army defectors and rebels of the opposition Free Syrian Army.

    Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan

    • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
    • A U.N. supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
    • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
    • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
    • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
    • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

    Rights activists said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad assaulted opposition hubs in central Syria and the northern province of Idlib Thursday. They said rebels killed two soldiers in an ambush in Hama province.

    Meanwhile, Arab leaders at a Baghdad summit endorsed the Syria peace plan drafted by international envoy Kofi Annan and called for its immediate and complete implementation.

    The plan urges both sides to start a cease-fire and a dialogue but does not call for Mr. Assad to step down as part of a political transition.

    Arab leaders previously had urged the Syrian president to hand power to a deputy to manage the transition, but now they appear to have backed away from that demand.

    Mr. Assad said he will "spare no effort" to ensure the success of the Annan plan, but that it would depend on an armed groups stopping their "terrorist actions." He also said countries providing money and weapons to the Syrian opposition must stop immediately to enable Mr. Annan's mission to succeed.

    In an apparent reference to Turkey, a former ally that now hosts the rebel FSA, he singled out "neighboring countries that harbor these groups and facilitate their terrorist actions."


    In Washington, State Department spokesman Mark Toner called Mr. Assad's remarks "discouraging." He again urged the Syrian president to halt the violence immediately, saying government forces have done nothing to comply with the Annan peace plan in the three days since agreeing to it.

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said it is "essential" for the Syrian president to put his commitments into immediate effect. Speaking to Arab leaders at the start of the Baghdad summit, Mr. Ban accused the Syrian government of failing to fulfill its responsibility to protect its own people.

    Only nine leaders of the Arab League's 22 members traveled to Iraq for the summit. Mr. Assad was not invited. The absence of other leaders reflected ongoing divisions within the Arab League about how to end Syria's violence.

    Meanwhile, Britain announced that it will provide $800,000 in non-lethal support to anti-Assad activists inside Syria to help them document government rights violations and develop skills to build a democratic society.

    The United Nations says violence linked to Syria's crackdown on the revolt has killed more than 9,000 people.

    Watch related video of Syrian violence

    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 page of 2
     Previous    
    by: joke
    March 29, 2012 5:40 PM
    thi si sa joke, right ? Assad is a president? who killes its own people?

    by: The Insider
    March 29, 2012 5:04 PM
    The Syrian refugee situation is putting serious financial strains on the Jordanian budget. It a matter of weeks, if not days Jordan will accept S.A.’s offer of financial assistance and allow help to reach the Syrian freedom fighters. Iran has given Assad 8 billion to stay in power. S.A. can match that and raise the stakes. S.A. and the Gulf has decided it is time for Assad to go. The clock is running out for Assad. Doubt Assad will be in Syria after the middle of 2013.

    by: Assadian
    March 29, 2012 3:39 PM
    God, Syria and Bashar. The enemies will fail, and Syria and Bashar will prevail. seriously, has anyone every heard that dogs who bark can defeat a LION?

    by: Kevin
    March 29, 2012 1:39 PM
    $800,000 million? where did you get that?

    by: Sarah
    March 29, 2012 11:20 AM
    "Violence across Syria killed at least 22 people". VIOLENCE never kills anyone, ARMED FORCES do. This kind of language is used by journalists and media outlets who are afraid to take a side, thus clouding their reporting in murky language. Take a stand BBC!

    by: PinkPanther 2/2
    March 29, 2012 10:35 AM
    oil and blood. It seems that The leaders of Saudi Arabia and Qata can not trust on Iraqi security too. Qatar should be careful because it has gained many enemies .

    by: PinkPanther 1/2
    March 29, 2012 10:35 AM
    Event Arab league leaders can not trust on the security in Iraq while they are attending this summit . It seems that W.Bush democracy is not working like it was planed . Have you seen how the rebels have been dealing with Africans and Gaddafi supporters ? Democratic future has been so clear while they are meeting under high security . They will leave killing each others while they are sucking your

    by: Xaaji Dhagax
    March 29, 2012 10:25 AM
    High level meeting and high level of just talking tough. became a high level of CULTURE of Arab Governments of doing nothing. Bashar al-Assad needs to be stopped killing his own unarmed people. If the Arabs are sincere about helping the Syrian civilians... the "military intervention" is the only option left now for Arabs to do.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora