News / Middle East

UN Envoy Warns Syria Crisis Worsening

U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, left, shakes hands with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby following a joint press conference at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, December 30, 2012.
U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi, left, shakes hands with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby following a joint press conference at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, December 30, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
U.N.-Arab League Syria envoy Lakhdar Brahimi says the situation in Syria is deteriorating rapidly and risks getting considerably worse, if no political solution is found to the conflict. 

The military situation in Syria continued to evolve rapidly Sunday, as U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi repeated a warning to the international community that Syria is facing a further bloodbath.

He says the situation is awful, if not very, very awful, and it is deteriorating exponentially.  He warns 100,000 more Syrians could die if the conflict lasts for another year.

Speaking in Cairo, the veteran U.N. envoy stressed he believes the only solution to the conflict is a political settlement between the warring parties.

He says that there are only two alternatives in Syria: either a political solution or hell.  He warns that Syria will not break apart into mini-states as happened in Yugoslavia, but into warring statelets as in Somalia.

More than 350 deaths were reported Saturday.  Arab media say the mainly Sunni Deir-al-Balbah region of the flashpoint city of Homs was recaptured by Syrian government forces, amid a heavy loss of life.

Free Syrian Army fighters transport ammunition which was seized from government forces' Wadi al-Daif military base at Maaret al-Numan, in the Idlib governorate in the northwest of Syria, December 29, 2012.Free Syrian Army fighters transport ammunition which was seized from government forces' Wadi al-Daif military base at Maaret al-Numan, in the Idlib governorate in the northwest of Syria, December 29, 2012.
x
Free Syrian Army fighters transport ammunition which was seized from government forces' Wadi al-Daif military base at Maaret al-Numan, in the Idlib governorate in the northwest of Syria, December 29, 2012.
Free Syrian Army fighters transport ammunition which was seized from government forces' Wadi al-Daif military base at Maaret al-Numan, in the Idlib governorate in the northwest of Syria, December 29, 2012.
Witness reports elsewhere indicate government troops have withdrawn elite units from several Damascus suburbs, abandoning them to rebel fighters.  Rebel fighters have also reportedly gained ground close to Syria's two international airports in Damascus and Aleppo.

American University of Beirut Political Science Professor Hilal Khashan says troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad appear to be abandoning areas around Damascus.  He says they are retreating to a coastal enclave heavily populated by Assad's Alawite minority.

“Hezbollah and pro-Alawite troops are establishing a corridor in [Lebanon's] northern Bekaa, and the outskirts of Homs will become the boundaries of the Alawite autonomous area," said Khashan. "[Saturday], they over-ran an area in Homs region, so it is clear that the regime is focusing on the Alawite enclave area.  They have already pulled out seven elite brigades from the greater Damascus area to fight the final battle over there."

Khashan says Russia, Iran and Hezbollah are helping Assad to establish the Alawite autonomous zone, along Syria's coast.  In return, he says, Russia hopes to keep control of its naval base in the port city of Tartous.

Syria's Alawite minority enjoyed a brief period of autonomy during the 1920s, during France's League of Nations mandate over Syria.  The Alawite enclave was absorbed into Greater Syria after several years.

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

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