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

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Forced Anal Testing Case to Appear Before Kenya Court

    Men challenge use of anal examinations to ‘prove homosexuality’; practice accomplishes nothing except to humiliate those subjected to them, according to Human Rights Watch

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora