News / Middle East

UN General Assembly to Meet on Syria

Fleeing civilians walk past a member of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo's district of Salah Edinne July 31, 2012.
Fleeing civilians walk past a member of the Free Syrian Army in Aleppo's district of Salah Edinne July 31, 2012.
Margaret BesheerLisa Schlein
BEIRUT/GENEVA — The United Nations General Assembly is to meet Thursday to discuss a Saudi resolution expressing grave concern with the violence in Syria and condemning the Security Council's lack of action.
 
The draft resolution also raises alarms about the Syrian government's threat to use chemical weapons against what the Syrians call foreign invaders. It calls on President Bashar al-Assad to step down in favor of a peaceful transition to a democratic government.
 
Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army remained locked in battles with rebels over the country's largest city of Aleppo on Tuesday.

There were widespread clashes reported across Syria Tuesday, but the fiercest battle remained in the country's commercial heart of Aleppo.

Syria's official news agency reported that the army ambushed between 400-500 terrorists - the word the government uses to refer to the rebels - in 30 pick-up trucks in the suburbs of Aleppo. The report said many were killed and wounded and several of their trucks destroyed.

Meanwhile, Rami Abd al-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said in an interview that the Free Syrian Army had successfully attacked a police station in the city.

“The rebels, they attacked some police station in two areas in Aleppo, and they killed at least around 40 people from the police," he said. "And also there are clashes in many areas in Aleppo and shelling from the Syrian regular army, and they are using the helicopter and they are using the mortar.”

Special Report - Arab Spring: The Evolution of Revolutions

The fighting comes as the Syrian opposition movement further splintered when some exiled Syrian activists announced in Cairo that they had formed a new political alliance, one that will challenge the rival Syrian National Council in moves to head a transitional government.

Calling itself the "Council for the Syrian Revolution," the group is led mainly by dissidents who left the National Council which, they said, "had failed to help the Syrian revolution." Activist Haitham al-Maleh said the new alliance would offer more support to rebel fighters.

Refugees Increasing

Algerian volunteers distribute free food for iftar (breaking fast) to Syrian refugee families who fled the violence in Port Said Square in Algiers, July 30, 2012.Algerian volunteers distribute free food for iftar (breaking fast) to Syrian refugee families who fled the violence in Port Said Square in Algiers, July 30, 2012.
x
Algerian volunteers distribute free food for iftar (breaking fast) to Syrian refugee families who fled the violence in Port Said Square in Algiers, July 30, 2012.
Algerian volunteers distribute free food for iftar (breaking fast) to Syrian refugee families who fled the violence in Port Said Square in Algiers, July 30, 2012.
The United Nations estimates some 200,000 civilians have fled Aleppo and surrounding areas in recent days. The U.N. refugee agency said thousands more remain displaced in Aleppo without the means to leave or are prevented from doing so by armed gangs.

Agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said thousands of frightened residents are seeking shelter in schools, mosques and public buildings. She said the Syrian Arab Red Crescent and other groups are registering about 300 displaced families a day in need of help.

"For example, there are 32 schools in Aleppo that we have identified and in each of those schools we have heard or witnessed that 250 to 350 people are packed inside," Fleming told reporters in Geneva.

"Many of these families [have] kids," she said. "And then in university dormitories there are a total of some 7,000 people staying in the dormitory rooms, hoping to seek safety from the continuing shelling and the continuing violence in the streets of Aleppo."  

Despite the difficulties of moving around in the city, Fleming said U.N. staff members are working with other aid organizations to assess needs. She said the agency's office in Damascus is sending household items including mattresses, blankets and kitchenware to Aleppo.

Iraqis Seek Help

U.N. staff members in Damascus are receiving phone calls from refugees, many of them Iraqis, who fear for their safety in Syria. Callers say they lack access to food, water and sanitation. They are asking the agency to help them move to safer areas and away from the fighting.

At the peak of the Iraq war, Syria hosted about one million refugees from Iraq. An estimated 80,000 remain in Damascus and many of those are seeking to return home.

In addition to the Iraqis, the U.N. said about 8,000 Somali and Afghan refugees are living in Damascus, many without documents. Fleming said they are afraid of being physically harmed and targeted.  

Since the outbreak of the conflict in Syria, Fleming said the Somalis and Afghans are becoming less accepted in Syria than refugees from Iraq.  

"Somalis and the Afghans lived quite peacefully and were able to work and feel that they could raise their families in Syria," she said. "However, now that things have turned violent, this is the group that feels like they stick out, particularly. And, thus, feel more at risk and many feel directly targeted."  

Fleming said up to 25,000 Syrians reportedly fled to Algeria. And she predicts that as Syrians in Algeria become increasingly financially-strapped, they will turn to the U.N. refugee agency for assistance.

Besheer reported from Beiruit and Schlein reported from Geneva. 

You May Like

Video Iran Nuclear Deal Becomes US Campaign Issue

Voters in three crucial battleground states - Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania - overwhelmingly oppose nuclear deal with Iran More

With IS in Coalition Cross-Hairs, al-Qaida's Syria Affiliate Reemerges

Jabhat al-Nusra has rebounded, increasingly casting itself as a critical player in battle for Syria’s future More

Lessons Learned From Katrina, 10 Years Later

FEMA chief Craig Fugate says key changes include better preparation, improved coordination among state, federal assistance agencies More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Hadad from: NY
August 01, 2012 12:16 AM
you have got to love these guys... UN Assembly to meet on Syria with some coffee, humus, good music... love it... let those Arab cowards kill each other - i don't want any of my family members to die for these filthy people - send the "Nation of Islam" and the head coward... what was his name... you know... the guy who looks like a pussy with the spaceship...

by: anonymous from: Norway
July 31, 2012 10:32 PM
While the US and it's allies sanctioned the use of chemicals in war fighting, or rather war on terror, in another part of the world, the monster appears to be returning towards the original perpetrators' heads now. The western and Eastern powers simply experimented a new form of terror fight in Sri Lanka and most of the Arab-world including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia supported the moves at UN, and it may be the day of repaying! Their own people are going to be burnt similarly. This might be a sign that divinity, whatever one wants to call it, does exist and is impartial.

by: umish from: usa
July 31, 2012 10:29 PM
Why bother giving it to the UN. They are a bunch of impotent blowhards and most are terroristic in nature. THey couldnt punch their way out of a paper bag even if it had holes. Let the UN stay out of it and make believe they are politicians

by: Romildo Caldas from: Brazil
July 31, 2012 10:27 PM
International Effort have been made to stop this domestic War. International Militar Intervention is not the right way to solve such a problem. For Instance; the past decision to invade Iraq was a wrong one. Surely, we can help the victms, and give some piece of advice if it is accepted. Only Diplomatic Means can be used.. Syria' Sovereignty has to be respected.

by: wildiron from: usa
July 31, 2012 10:19 PM
In the USA we have a check and balance thanks to our vets, if the govt here went out of control, us vets have the responsibility and authority and capability to see that doesn't happen.

by: Alex from: Australia
July 31, 2012 9:03 PM
Lol. Go the Syrian Army. Show the world that Syria does not bow down to the West, like many Arab countries have already.
If those soldiers and police officers were killed in the USA, we would be hearing " Terrorist Attack in America!!!" But here, VOA mocks how the Syrians are calling these pure terrorists, terrorists, while they say they are rebles, fighting for freedom. What freedom? Freedom to kiill? Freedom to destroy? Yep.

Syria Al Assad will prevail

by: Dheruv Mahindra from: India
July 31, 2012 4:12 PM
I am a strong believer in freedom and the democratic process, no man or woman on this earth should be ruled by another - freewill must always be express. The demonstrations by opposition in Syria would have been effective if they were kept peaceful and non-violent, but, instead overzealous activist have marred the process by arming resistance to wreak havoc on a once stable country - now, how must the government see this process? which government on real soldiers would give in to an opposition who is composed of mainly criminals or "terrorist?"

by: Bryan .. from: California ..
July 31, 2012 3:13 PM
This is President Obama's fault for not stopping the murder of unarmed demonstrators 435 days ago .. just like the British and Americans could have stopped WWII by eliminating Hilter in the early years ..

by: SuperUberPatriot1776yeah from: USAUSA
July 31, 2012 2:32 PM
Loving the phony sounding comments, as if Merica' has been concerned with the well being of Syrians all along, lol.
In Response

by: Nora from: Minute Men
July 31, 2012 8:52 PM
excellent observation... eMrica... ugly Arab filth... these are the slime buckets with the cowardly IEDs... killing our guys... disgusting...

by: Aperson7 from: NY
July 31, 2012 2:20 PM
Good update. For background on the Syrian civil war, look no further:
http://politicizenow.wordpress.com/2012/07/26/the-state-of-syria/
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs