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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid