News / Middle East

Syria Detains Opposition Activists in Continuing Crackdown

In this image taken on a mobile phone, a Syrian soldier patrols streets in Damascus, Syria, May 8, 2011
In this image taken on a mobile phone, a Syrian soldier patrols streets in Damascus, Syria, May 8, 2011



The Syrian government is continuing its crackdown Monday against anti-government protesters. Witnesses say the government is moving tanks and security forces into a number of towns and cities that have been hotbeds for opposition protests.

Witnesses say Syrian security forces and pro-government militias broke down doors and shattered windows while rounding up opposition activists in several cities and some suburbs of the capital, Damascus.

Clouds of black smoke also hovered over the Damascus suburb of Maadamiyeh, where witnesses say a government crackdown began overnight. Electricity and telephone service were reported to have been cut, and government militias were reported to be making house-to-house searches.

Small crowds of opposition supporters chanted slogans overnight against the government in a suburb of the northwest city of Jisr Shughur, according to a Facebook group. The city was dark, except for generators, with electricity apparently cut off. It was not possible to independently verify the news, since foreign journalists are not allowed to cover events in Syria.

Opposition supporters waved candles during an overnight protest in a suburb of the flashpoint southern city of Daraa. They condemned numerous arrests of young activists by government militias. The group chanted slogans accusing government media of lying.

Syrian government television said that "outlaws" and "terrorists" attacked and killed a number of Syrian soldiers in recent days. It showed family members of the deceased, who said that "terrorists" had taken their loved ones from them.

The reports accused international media of "plotting" against the Syrian government and "broadcasting lies."

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, said that the Syrian government is widening the scope of its crackdown, amid what he calls global indifference.

"The government is asserting its control. It's dealing with the protests from a security perspective. International condemnation is barely visible. So, the regime is solving the situation from a security perspective," said Khashan. "[The government] started in Daraa. They took their time to finish off positions there, and then they moved to Banias on the coast and a couple of days ago they moved into Homs, and today Syrian tanks are moving into a Damascus neighborhood."

Khashan added that the government seems to be succeeding in quelling the popular revolt, since residents of Syria’s largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo, appear reluctant to join demonstrations in large numbers. But in the long run, he said, the government tactics may backfire.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Isolation, Despair Weigh on Refugees in Remote German Camp

Refugees resettled near village of Holzdorf deep in German forestland say there is limited interaction with public, mutual feelings of distrust

Britons Divided Over Bombing IS

Surveys show Europeans generally support more military action against Islamic State militants, but sizable opposition exists in Britain

Russia Blacklists Soros Foundations as 'Undesirable'

Russian officials add Soros groups to a list of foreign and international organizations banned from giving grants to Russian partners

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs