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

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

update Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy More

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Reporting from Somali capital for past decade, Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal has been working at one of Mogadishu's leading radio stations covering parliament More

After Nearly a Century, Voodoo Opera Rises Again

Opera centers on character named Lolo, a Louisiana plantation worker and Voodoo priestess 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.
Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishui
X
Abdulaziz Billow
June 30, 2015 2:16 PM
Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.

VOA Blogs