News / Middle East

Free Syrian Army Rebels Abandon Cease-Fire

An image from Edlib News Network shows citizens looking at a Syrian tank destroyed during clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces in Idlib province, June 4, 2012. (The photo cannot be independently confirmed)An image from Edlib News Network shows citizens looking at a Syrian tank destroyed during clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces in Idlib province, June 4, 2012. (The photo cannot be independently confirmed)
x
An image from Edlib News Network shows citizens looking at a Syrian tank destroyed during clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces in Idlib province, June 4, 2012. (The photo cannot be independently confirmed)
An image from Edlib News Network shows citizens looking at a Syrian tank destroyed during clashes between rebels and Syrian government forces in Idlib province, June 4, 2012. (The photo cannot be independently confirmed)
VOA News
The rebel Free Syrian Army says it is no longer bound by a United Nations-backed cease-fire agreement as international efforts to end the bloody conflict were set to ramp up with renewed diplomacy later this week.

Rebel spokesman Sami al-Kurdi told the Reuters news agency Monday the FSA had "decided to end our commitment to this [plan]" and have only resumed offensive operations "to defend our people."

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 80 government soldiers were killed over the last few days as rebels intensified attacks on government checkpoints. Syrian state media have not acknowledged the casualties and there is no independent confirmation.

International mediator Kofi Annan is due to brief the U.N. Security Council Thursday in New York and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Friday in Washington. On Monday, Annan urged major powers to ensure his peace plan was implemented by both sides as it remains "the only option on the table."

Russia has blunted Western efforts to condemn Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and push him from power.
       
A European Union summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin failed to resolve differences in how to deal with Syria's 15-month long conflict. Speaking at the St. Petersburg summit, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said the Russian leader and the 27-nation bloc have "some divergent assessments" about Syria.

Van Rompuy said both sides need to work together to achieve an immediate halt to Syria's violence and launch a process of political transition in the country, led for 11 years by Mr. Assad.

"On Syria, let me say that the situation is appalling," said Van Rompuy. "The Syrian regime should immediately cease all forms of violence and provide its full support to the U.N. supervision mission. The European Union and Russia might have some divergent assessments but we fully agree that [U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi] Annan's plan as a whole provides the best opportunity to break the cycle of violence in Syria, avoiding the civil war and finding a peaceful lasting solution. We need to combine our efforts in order for this to happen and to find common messages on which we agree.''

Russia and the West have long disagreed about which side of the Syrian conflict should do more to end the violence. Moscow says Mr. Assad and the rebels trying to oust him have an equal obligation to stop fighting, while Western powers say the Syrian president should act first by ending his deadly crackdown on dissent.

Also Monday, White House spokesman Jay Carney said Assad was lying when he denied his government had massacred 108 civilians, mostly women and children, in the Houla area of Homs province on May 25. Asked if Mr. Assad was "lying again to the world," Carney said "yes."

In New York, China's U.N. ambassador, Li Baodong, said his government is not attempting to protect Mr. Assad and will respect the will of the Syrian people on the country's future. He acknowledged the impact of the Houla massacre on diplomatic efforts to curb the killing in Syria.

"What happened in Houla [is definitely] a setback for efforts to solve the crisis in Syria and has caused colossal damage to Kofi Annan's mediation efforts," said Li Baodong.

Li, the Security Council president this month, warned that if Mr. Annan's peace plan isn't quickly enacted, violence in Syria would turn into "full-fledged civil war" that may spill over and affect Mideast peace.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid