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

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid