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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs