News / Middle East

Syrian Activists: Grenades Hit Baath Party Building in Damascus

A general view of the ruling Baath party headquarters, in Damascus, Syria, November 20, 2011.
A general view of the ruling Baath party headquarters, in Damascus, Syria, November 20, 2011.

Syrian activists said Sunday several rocket-propelled grenades hit a ruling Baath Party building in Damascus, hours after an Arab League deadline for President Bashar al-Assad's government to end its bloody crackdown passed.

The Local Coordination Committees activist network and witnesses reported numerous explosions in the city center.  They said fire trucks headed to the area amid a heavy police presence.  But there was no immediate verification of the reports, and other eyewitnesses saw no signs of damage.

The Free Syrian Army, a group of dissident soldiers based in neighboring Turkey, claimed responsibility for the attack.  If confirmed, it would be the first significant assault on a government building in the Syrian capital since the anti-government uprising began in March.

The activists also said at least nine people were killed by security forces across the country.

Also Sunday, the Arab League rejected a Syrian request to amend a plan that would end the country's deepening crisis.  Under the plan, the Cairo-based organization would send a 500-member monitoring mission to Syria to assess the situation.  The Arab League said the amendments were unacceptable because they would alter the plan's "very essence."

Reuters news agency quoted Syria's Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem as saying "the plan as it stood compromised the country's sovereignty, but that Damascus had not rejected the mission."

Egypt's state news agency, MENA, reported Sunday that the 22-member Arab League will meet again Thursday to discuss the Syrian crisis.  It suspended Syria's membership earlier this month.

Meanwhile, in an interview published in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, Mr. Assad vowed he will not "bow down" to international pressure to ease his brutal crackdown against "militants" who he says are massacring Syrians on a daily basis.

The embattled president, who took over from his late father, Hafez al-Assad, in 2000, said there would be elections in February or March when Syria would vote for a parliament to create a new constitution.  He also repeated earlier warnings that any foreign military intervention in Syria would "shake the entire Middle East."

Damascus has been facing mounting international pressure to end the unrest.  The United Nations says the crackdown has resulted in more than 3,500 deaths.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he will meet with Syrian rebel leaders in London Monday.  Hague has condemned the violence and called for Mr. Assad to step aside.

Some information for this report provided by AP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs