News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Pound Rebel Positions in Aleppo

A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell explodes in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell explodes in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
VOA News
The Syrian army continued attacking rebel positions Sunday in the northern city of Aleppo with heavy shelling and helicopter gunships.
 
The country's biggest city has become a key battleground in the nearly year and a half uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule, as government forces reportedly mass ahead of what is expected to be a strong offensive against the rebels.
 
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that more than 40 Syrians, including 25 civilians, were confirmed as killed Sunday across the country.  The British-based group said more than 24 others were killed a day earlier.  The casualties have not been independently verified.
 
Kidnapped Iranians
 
Meanwhile, Iranian media said Tehran has asked Turkey and Qatar to help secure the release of 48 Iranian nationals kidnapped Saturday in Damascus.  Iran says the victims were religious pilgrims, but a brigade commander with the Free Syrian Army describes them as elite Iranian Revolutionary Guards.
 
Iran backs the Syrian government, while Turkey and Qatar support the Syrian opposition. 
 
Former Iranian President Abolhasan Bani Sadr tells VOA that the captured Iranians were not armed or wearing Revolutionary Guard uniforms.  He says Iran is definitely helping President Assad and that the stakes are very high for his country.
 
He says that the fall of the Assad government would not only be a heavy blow to Iranian prestige and influence in the region, but it would also reinforce U.S. policy of containing Iran.  He says Tehran views any toppling of President Assad as signifying that Iran's turn could be next.

  • A truck catches flames after it was hit by rockets fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter plane during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A general view shows a street after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and forces loyal to President Bashar Al-Assad, in Salah Edinne district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft gun as a Syrian Air Force fighter bomber fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat, some 37 km (23 miles) north of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • In this photo taken on guided government tour, Syrian army forces are seen at al-Sijen district, in the center of Aleppo, August 9, 2012.
  • A Syrian man reacts after the funeral of 29 year-old Free Syrian Army fighter, Husain Al-Ali, who was killed during clashes in Aleppo, in the cemetery in town of Marea on the outskirts of Aleppo city, August 9, 2012.
  • Men search for bodies under rubble of a house destroyed by a Syrian Air force air strike, in Tel Rafat, about 37 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, August 8, 2012.
  • In this citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network SNN, Syrians attend the funeral procession of a man killed in Idlib province, August 7, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter runs after a Syrian Army tank shell exploded in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo, August 5, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters fire their rifles during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighter holds a RPG launcher during clashes with Syrian Army in the Salah al- Din neighbourhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • This image map provides an overview of the activity seen in Aleppo from July 23, 2012 to August 1, 2012 (base image collected on July 29, 2012).
  • More than 600 probable artillery impact craters, represented here with yellow dots, were identified in Anadan, in the vicinity of Aleppo.
  • In this August 5, 2012 photograph, Syrians pass by a destroyed house in town of Atareb outskirts of Aleppo, Syria.
  • Free Syrian Army fighter runs for cover during clashes with Syrian Army soldiers in the Salah al- Din neighborhood of central Aleppo August 5, 2012.
  • Syrian women mourn the loss of loved ones in Aleppo fighting, August 5, 2012.
International Debate Continues
 
The U.S. State Department announced Sunday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will visit Turkey later this week to discuss the deteriorating situation in Syria. 
 
The United Nations General Assembly on Friday voted overwhelmingly to condemn the Security Council for its failure to act and condemned the Syrian regime for using heavy weapons.  

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.
The U.N. special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, resigned Thursday in frustration with the world body's failure to act decisively to prevent  the bloodshed in Syria.  Mr. Annan said he could not be the only one working for peace while the fighting between Syrian forces and the rebels intensified.  Mr. Annan's peace plan for Syria included an immediate cease-fire and talks on a transitional government. 
 
Russia and China have vetoed three Security Council resolutions that would have held President Assad responsible for his failure to abide by Mr. Annan's peace plan and threatened him with sanctions. 

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

 

Loading...

You May Like

Missouri Town Braces for Possible Racial Unrest

Situation in Ferguson hinges on whether white police officer will be indicted for August shooting death of unarmed black teen; decision could come Monday More

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of 1930s Deadly Famine

President Poroshenko compares Soviet-era ‘genocide’ to current tactics of pro-Russia rebels in Ukraine's east More

S. Philippines Convictions Elusive 5 Years After Election-related Killings

Officials vowed to deliver justice as the nation marked the anniversary of the country's worst political massacre that left 58 dead, more than half media More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
by: VJNNC from: GSO, NC
August 05, 2012 9:24 AM
Really, Iran? How about YOU release those YOU'VE kidnapped first!?


by: Anthony from: USA
August 05, 2012 9:20 AM
So now why would pilgrims armed to the teeth, want to go pray in a warzone...hmm somethings fishy in Alepo.


by: Wally Geez from: USA
August 05, 2012 8:36 AM
It's nice to see Iran get a taste of their own medicine. They have been sponsoring terrorism for years and making these kidnappings a common occurrence to other nations!

In Response

by: moni from: london
August 05, 2012 12:06 PM
well done, that is true


by: hank from: US
August 05, 2012 8:33 AM
Hostage taking is never a positive thing. Iranians have a lot of experience in hostage taking. I wonder how they feel when they are the victims.

In Response

by: Pete from: USA
August 05, 2012 4:19 PM
I agree that hostage taking is never positive. Iran has participated in hostage taking in the past. However, it must be remembered that we Westerners, too, should not be too self-righteous. Hostage taking and assassination have been integral parts of Western colonialism since the very first conquests. Of course, two wrongs never make a 'right', but why are Western powers of many thousands of kilometers away, so interested in a change of government in Syria. In terms of 'universality', what would we in the United States think if the People's Republic of China was attempting to become deeply involved in domestic troubles in Mexico, and, with the help of Cuba and Guatemala, providing rear-guard bases and arms to keep an insurrection afloat, perhaps with narco-traffickers? We would say that it is none of their business to foster that type of 'change' so close to our borders...in our part of the world. Why should Iran, Lebanon and the Shia Muslims feel differently about Syria? All of the powers against Syria's current government are either very pro-Western, 'NATO' aligned or Sunni Muslim. It should also be remembered that, as in Libya, a number of Syrian insurgents said that they never had any intention of abiding by cease-fires because they had the unwritten agreement of the major Western powers to ignore the cease-fires.


by: Nikos Retsos from: Chicago, USA
August 05, 2012 8:26 AM
What 48 Iranians have been doing in Syria? It will be hard to digest the Iranian explanation that they are religious pilgrims. With Syria in a civil war, and neighborhoods turning into rubble daily from street battles, from artillery shelling, from aircraft bombing, and from army helicopters firing on every street suspected by the government of being under rebel control, is this a time for foreigners to venture into Syria either for a religious pilgrimage or for tourism?

Iranians are on the wrong side of the Syrian conflict, and Iranians caught in Syria now may not get a pass from the Syrian rebels - no matter what was their purpose of being there. Nikos Retsos, retired professor

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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid