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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid