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.

    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

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    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.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.