News / Middle East

Red Cross Negotiating Humanitarian Cease-Fire in Syria

A Syrian boy chants slogans during a rally demanding UNICEF to protect Syrian children in front of the UNICEF Compound in Amman, Jordan, February 20, 2012.
A Syrian boy chants slogans during a rally demanding UNICEF to protect Syrian children in front of the UNICEF Compound in Amman, Jordan, February 20, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +

The International Committee of the Red Cross says it is trying to broker a humanitarian cease-fire in Syria, as government tanks and troops mass around the opposition stronghold of Homs after bombarding the city for more than two weeks.

SYRIAN ARMED FORCES

* 220,000 ground forces.
* 70,000 Air Force personnel.
* 5,000 Navy personnel.
* 314,000 reservists.
* 4,950 main battle tanks.
* 590 reconnaissance vehicles.
* 2,450 armored infantry fighting vehicles.
* 1,500 armored personnel carriers.
* 3,440 artillery pieces.
* 500 mortars.
* 4,100 surface-to-air missiles.
* At least 550 surface-to-surface missiles.
* 300 fighter-ground attack planes.
* 48 intelligence/surveillance planes.
* 22 heavy transport planes.
* 36 attack helicopters.
* 100 reconnaissance/transport helicopters.
* 20 transport helicopters.

PARAMILITARY FORCES

* 108,000 personnel, including 8,000 Interior Ministry gendarmerie, 100,000 militia.

FREE SYRIAN ARMY

* Opposition claims to have as many as 40,000 personnel but analysts say 4,000 to 7,000.
* Arms capability and stockpile unknown.

ICRC chief spokeswoman Carla Haddad said Monday the Geneva-based agency has been in talks with Syrian authorities and rebels about ways of stopping hostilities to allow the delivery of urgently needed humanitarian aid to affected areas. The ICRC is the only international agency with aid workers in Syria and has been cooperating with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent.

Syrian rights activists said President Bashar al-Assad's government deployed tanks and other reinforcements around Homs on Monday ahead of a possible ground assault. They said the latest government shelling killed at least nine people in the central city, a major hub of an 11-month uprising against Mr. Assad's autocratic rule. Syrian state news agency SANA said 12 security personnel were buried after being killed in fighting with rebels.

None of the casualty figures could be independently verified because Syria restricts the operations of foreign media.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Monday nations opposed to Assad's deadly crackdown on the uprising will demonstrate his increasing isolation at a Friends of Syria meeting in Tunisia later this week. Speaking on a visit to Mexico, she said the meeting will focus on what she called the "brave" Syrian people's need for "support and solidarity."

Assad also received several messages of support on Monday from his allies Iran, Russia and China. Iranian state media said two Iranian warships docked at the Syrian port of Tartous on a mission to train Syrian naval forces.

Separately, SANA said a delegation of Russian lawmakers met the Syrian President in Damascus, welcoming his promised political reforms, including a referendum on a new constitution scheduled for Sunday. Syrian opposition groups and Western nations have dismissed the reforms as meaningless while Mr. Assad continues suppressing dissent.

In another move, China's state-run People's Daily newspaper published a commentary warning Western nations that their continued support of Assad's opponents will lead to a "large-scale civil war" in Syria.

U.S. Senator John McCain said Monday Washington should provide medical and technical assistance to the Syrian rebels to give them the "wherewithal to fight back and stop the slaughter." He was speaking on a visit to Cairo.

"I am not saying that the United States needs to directly supply arms to the Syrian National Army," said McCain. "I am saying that there are ways to get assistance, ranging from medical assistance to technical assistance such as GPS and other things that we could provide to the Syrian National Army, in support of the Syrian National Council and there are ways to get weapons into Syria. It is time we gave them the wherewithal to fight back and stop the slaughter.''

Syrian state media said Assad told the Russian lawmakers that Syria is a victim of "armed terrorists" supported by foreigners aiming to destabilize the country, a claim he has repeated frequently. The uprising began with peaceful protests last March, but has become increasingly militarized in recent months with battles between army defectors and pro-Assad troops. Human rights activists the unrest has killed at least 6,000 people.

Earlier this month, Russia and China vetoed a Western- and Arab-backed effort to pass a U.N. Security Council resolution endorsing an Arab League plan for Mr. Assad to cede power. But, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby said Monday he believes Moscow and Beijing may be shifting their positions on the Syrian crisis.

"The [meeting in Tunisia] will include a large number of countries and the goal of this meeting is to put extra pressure on Syria," said Elaraby. "Also, there are indicators coming from China, in particular, and to a certain extent from Russia that there maybe a change in (their) position.''

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Syria Photo Gallery

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

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid