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

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border From Mexico

    In remote areas of the Sonoran Desert, which straddles the US-Mexico, thousands of migrants face arid desolation

    Video Recycling is Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    It's an ancient craft that stretches back millennia - but despite Lebanon’s trash crisis providing a lifeline, remaining glass blowers face an uncertain future

    Meet the Alleged Killer of Cambodia’s Kem Ley

    What little is known about former soldier, troublesome Buddhist monk and indebted gambler, raises more questions than answers

    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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora