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

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid