News / Middle East

Governor says 600 Evacuated from Syria's Embattled Homs

United Nations members arrive to the besieged neighborhoods of Homs in Syria, to supply humanitarian aid, Feb. 8, 2014.
United Nations members arrive to the besieged neighborhoods of Homs in Syria, to supply humanitarian aid, Feb. 8, 2014.
Edward Yeranian
The governor of Syria's war-battered city of Homs says that more than 600 people were evacuated Sunday from rebel-held parts of the city.

U.N. and Syrian Red Crescent workers rescued the large group on the third day of a cease-fire between rebels and government forces.  Even so, eyewitness accounts say a number of women and children trying to leave the city were killed and wounded after being hit by mortar shells.

Homs Governor Talal Barazi and Red Crescent officials said they were attempting to extend the rescue effort beyond the three-day period that had been negotiated by the United Nations.  The United Nations says 2,500 people have been stranded by the military siege in Homs since mid-2012.

Barazi said an aid shipment reached Homs, despite reports the road into the old city was mined.  He added sniper fire also hindered the operation.

A U.N. and Syrian Red Crescent aid convoy of armored four-wheel drive vehicles reportedly came under fire for a second day Sunday, after entering Homs to deliver relief supplies.

U.N. Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos said she was disappointed by reports aid workers were deliberately targeted.  She called it a stark reminder of the dangers civilians and aid workers face each day in Syria.

U.N. convoy commander Yacoub Helou told journalists any violence will prevent aid from entering the city for a long time.

He pointed out that several rockets came close to causing a disaster (Saturday) and while he can not say who was responsible, anyone who uses arms is trying to harm children, the poor and the old.

Middle East analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London tells VOA that U.N. officials are required to work with the Assad government, since it is a U.N. member and continues to officially represent the country.

Shehadi argues that Damascus appears to be using the aid issue to force the international community to deal with it directly, conferring further legitimacy on the Assad government.   

“"The U.N. has no choice, because it can only deal with official channels, and since the regime is still part of the U.N., they have to coordinate with it and support," Shehadi  said. "The Syria regime is holding its own population hostage and starving them until we engage with them, basically.”

A crowd of men worked Sunday to dig survivors from the rubble after Syrian government bombing caused a residential building to collapse in the nearby city of Hama.  Dozens of government soldiers were also killed in Hama after a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up near a Syrian Army checkpoint.   

The Syrian government and the opposition blame each other for breaking the cease-fire, which was intended to let in aid and allow civilians to leave.

A year-long blockade of Homs by Syrian government forces has created severe food shortages.

On Saturday, opposition activists said Syrian government forces renewed their assault on the northern city of Aleppo.  

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 15 people were killed when government forces dropped crude explosives called barrel bombs on the city.

The next round of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition is due to open Monday.

The talks, organized by the United States and Russia, have made little progress so far in ending Syria's civil war. More than 130,000 people have been killed and 9 million forced from their homes since the conflict began in 2011.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF2 from: Great North (Canada)
February 09, 2014 3:26 PM
It is good to see that a small glimmer of humanity, has been shown in this rescue of 600 victims of a terrible civil war. Much more needs to be done to help the trapped civilians. It is horrendous to see that in the 21rst century this type of inhumanity is allowed to exist. Let us hope that all sides, terrorizing the civilian population, come to reason and humanitarian corridors are established, even on an intermitent basis, to provide the basics of life, and to allow for the extraction of more innocent civilians. It is a little achievement for the UN and the SC, but much and far more needs to be done.

by: Bob Man from: Vancouver Washington
February 09, 2014 9:15 AM
Maybe an airdrop of individual family meals? Use a ribbon to create drag and slow decent instead of an expensive parachute? Cut out the middle man?

by: Anonymous
February 08, 2014 9:34 PM
The headline says 'rocket fire', the body of the article says 'mortar fire'. Which is true?
In Response

by: ali baba from: new york
February 09, 2014 3:17 PM
the true is Syria is torn apart because the Muslim fanatic. the fanatic give money ,arm, thugs , woman to destroy the country and make million of innocent people suffer . the true that facing deadly form of ideology that will causing the most catastrophe in the world history set by fanatic whom get most of its money from oil and working in US to feed and support arm that destroy Syria and Libya and Egypt on the list . these fanatic have no morale. they kill innocent people .they use woman for their pleasure and called sexual jihad .
In Response

by: jimmy from: china
February 09, 2014 10:34 AM
you can go and check by yourself.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs