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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid