News / Middle East

    Fighting Rages Around Syrian Capital for Second Day

    Smoke rises from a mosque and another building during heavy fighting between the Free Syrian Army and President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in the Jobar area of Damascus Feb. 6, 2013.
    Smoke rises from a mosque and another building during heavy fighting between the Free Syrian Army and President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in the Jobar area of Damascus Feb. 6, 2013.
    Edward Yeranian
    Syrian government forces shelled several districts of Damascus Thursday during a second day of fierce fighting with rebels in and around the capital.
     
    Amateur video showed smoke rising from the southern districts of Damascus as shells crashed into areas that rebel forces have tried to seize from the government.

    Witnesses say elite government units located along northern heights of the capital used field artillery to slow the rebel advance.
     
    Syrian state television reported that a "government offensive" had pushed rebels out of the south-eastern Damascus district of Joubar. The report also said that rebel forces shelled a pro-government northern district of the city, killing several people.
     
    Neither government nor rebel accounts can be independently verified as Syria does not permit journalists to report freely.
     
    Arab media reported that Syrian government troops were also battling to retake a portion of the southern ring highway that rebels had captured Wednesday. The rebel control prevents government access to the main north-south highway to the southern city of Daraa.
     
    Amateur video also showed heavy government shelling in Daraa. Recent reports say the government had lost significant chunks of the flashpoint southern city and that the rebels appear to be better armed there.

    • A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares to fire a B-10 recoilless gun in the Haresta neighborhood of Damascus, Feb. 7, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army members raise an Islamic flag on a rooftop after heavy fighting with President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in the Jobar area of Damascus, Syria, Feb. 6, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter walks in the Haresta neighborhood of Damascus Feb. 7, 2013.
    • Boys warm up next to a fire outside a building in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus, Feb. 5, 2013.
    • Rubble and damaged buildings in Daraya after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Feb. 4, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
    • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in Daraya Feb. 4, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
    • A man carries his sister who was wounded in a government airstrike in Ansari, in Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.
    • People carry a body after a government airstrike hit Ansari, Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.
    • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows people searching through the debris of destroyed buildings after airstrikes hit Ansari, Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.

    Conflict rages
     
    Analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London said the fighting inside the capital and elsewhere makes it difficult to envision a positive end to the conflict.
     
    "What is happening on the ground is the worst case scenario," Shehadi said. "There are three possible outcomes, all of them bad. If the regime wins it's bad. If the opposition wins it's bad. If nobody wins, it's worse."

    "So, I don't think that one should leave developments on the ground to reach an outcome. There has to be an international policy," he said.
     
    But Shehadi said political and diplomatic efforts have proved futile so far. He said a recent initiative by exiled Syrian opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib to negotiate with the government "reveals the futility of any attempt to talk to the government."
     
    "The regime," Shehadi said, "does not want dialogue and the Syrian people won't accept a dialogue that will leave the regime in place."
     
    Khatib is demanding the government release all women captives it holds before Sunday or his offer for dialogue will be rescinded.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.