News / Middle East

Syrian Activists: Government Attacks Kill 9

A Syrian rebel walks in Khaldiyeh neighborhood, Homs province, May 15, 2012.
A Syrian rebel walks in Khaldiyeh neighborhood, Homs province, May 15, 2012.
VOA News
Syrian activists say government shelling and gunfire killed at least nine people across the country on Wednesday, most of them in a region where U.N. military observers were caught up in a deadly shooting and bomb blast the day before.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces opened fire in the northwestern town of Khan Sheikhoun, killing five people a day after at least 20 mourners were shot dead at a funeral procession.

Six U.N. monitors who were visiting the town at the time of Tuesday's incident left on Wednesday after spending the night with opposition activists who said they were protecting the foreigners. The U.N. team's convoy was struck by a roadside bomb shortly after the Tuesday shootings, but none of the observers were hurt. It was not clear who caused the blast.

U.N. mission chief Robert Mood, a Norwegian general, said Wednesday the monitors told him they were well-treated and were heading back to base. He expressed gratitude to the Syrian government for "facilitating" the observers departure from Khan Sheikhoun.

The U.N. personnel are part of a larger group of observers who have deployed across Syria to assess government and rebel compliance with a fragile April truce brokered by international mediator Kofi Annan.

In other violence, the Observatory said government troops killed three people at a refugee camp in the southern province of Daraa and a fourth person in a shelling attack in the central Homs region. The rights group said another 15 civilians had been executed in Homs city since Tuesday. None of the casualties could be independently confirmed.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Wednesday that his forces have captured and killed an undisclosed number of foreign mercenaries as part of a crackdown on a 14-month opposition uprising. In his first interview in six months,  Assad told the Russia-24 television channel that his government is "preparing to show [the mercenaries] to the world."

The Syrian president has long-accused foreign-backed terrorists of driving the revolt against his 11-year rule. The uprising began with peaceful pro-democracy protests but became increasingly militarized as Syrian rebels began to fight back against security forces who attacked protesters.  

Mr. Assad also accused U.N. personnel in Syria of unfairly criticizing violent actions by government forces and ignoring attacks by terrorists. He said he will raise the complaint with Mr. Annan later this month, when he said the international envoy will visit the country.

In another part of his interview with the Russian state-run network, the Syrian president said the participation of Syrians in a parliamentary election earlier this month shows they support the political reforms he has introduced to address the country's uprising. Russia is a key military ally of Assad and has supported his reform pledges.

Syria said the election drew a 51 percent turnout, but opposition groups boycotted the vote and said few people cast ballots in rebellious towns and cities across the country.

Farhan Haq, a spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, told Alhurra television that continued violence in Syria indicates that both sides need to uphold the provisions of Annan's framework for peace.

"They need to abide by that agreement," said Haq. "They need to cease all violence and we are going to do what we can to calm the situation down and press both sides to do just that."  

Middle East analyst Nadim Shehadi says incidents such as the Tuesday blast near a U.N. convoy will eventually hamper the work of the monitors.

"It is certain that them being targeted will affect their mission," he said. "They will not be able to conduct their mission and they will be subject to more manipulation by the regime for security reasons."

The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed in violence related to the anti-government uprising that erupted more than a year ago. The Syrian government has blamed armed terrorist groups for much of the country's unrest.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP 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

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

Studies point to possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More