News / Middle East

Defectors Fight Syrian Troops As Opposition Begins General Strike

Anti-government protesters carry the coffin of Abdul Haleem Baqour during his funeral in Hula near Homs, Syria, December 10, 2011. Baqour was killed by shrapnel during shelling by the government army on Hula last week.
Anti-government protesters carry the coffin of Abdul Haleem Baqour during his funeral in Hula near Homs, Syria, December 10, 2011. Baqour was killed by shrapnel during shelling by the government army on Hula last week.

Syrian opposition sources say nearly to 20 people were killed across the country Sunday as bitter fighting erupted in several parts of the country. The fighting occurred as many towns and cities appear to have observed a call for a general strike.  

Rebel soldiers fought Syrian government troops near the Turkish border and outside the southern city of Diraa, burning a number of army vehicles. The violent clashes took place as shops and businesses observed a general strike in many parts of the country.

Several dozen videos on opposition websites showed shops shuttered in what was being called “a strike for honor.”  Witnesses in the northern city of Aleppo reported many businesses in outlying neighborhoods participated in the strike, after months of hesitation in joining opposition protests.

The opposition “Syrian Revolution” Facebook page claimed government agents “burned 178 shops” in Diraa, for observing the strike. An opposition leader also told al-Arabiya TV that government officials in Hama threatened to permanently shutter shops that observed the strike.

Witnesses in the besieged northern city of Homs say government forces fired on several neighborhoods, including Deir Balbah. Opposition sources say the government has issued an ultimatum to rebel soldiers to surrender, or face an attack on the city. Government forces have reportedly dug trenches and electricity and communications to the city have been cut.

Claims by either side are difficult to verify because Syria has banned most foreign journalists and prevented local reporters from moving freely.

Analyst Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says despite the Syrian government's attempts to crush the popular uprising in various parts of the country, including Homs, protests continue to erupt in new places.

He said the rebellion remains quite strong and the conflict now engulfs the Diraa region, the suburbs of Damascus, areas around Hama, large swaths of Idlib province near Turkey, the desert town of Deir ez Zor, as well as Homs. He says each time the Syrian government tries to snuff out the rebellion in one place, a new one breaks out elsewhere. He says there can be no military solution to the conflict, because the uprising has strong roots across the country, unlike a rebellion that was brutally put down in 1982.

Syrian opposition supporters also stormed their country's embassy in the Jordanian capital of Amman. Embassy guards reportedly arrested a number of protesters, causing other angry protesters to surround the building.

Arab League sources reported Saturday that Arab foreign ministers would not meet until week's end to discuss Syria's response to a League initiative to send Arab observers to prevent violence against civilians. It is not clear if League ambassadors will meet sooner.

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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs