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

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora