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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More