News / Middle East

Blast Kills at Least 30 in Syria's North

Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are seen at Suleiman al-Halabi neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, September 20, 2012.
Forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad are seen at Suleiman al-Halabi neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria, September 20, 2012.
Carla Babb
A Syrian rights group says a blast in northeast Syria has killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens of others.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights quotes witnesses as saying the blast occurred when an air strike hit a fuel station in al-Raqqa province. The group's director, Rami Abdelrahman, said witnesses told him they saw at least 30 bodies, with the death toll likely to rise.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television said a military helicopter that crashed near Damascus clipped the tail of a Syrian passenger plane in midair.  The report said the passenger jet landed safely at Damascus International Airport with 200 people onboard.

Speaking from Damascus, VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott said reports of the incident were an alarming example of the lack of control.

"It just speaks to the kind of chaotic situation, with helicopters flying around bombing these places just sporadically and without, evidently, very clear guidelines of where they are flying," she said.

Opposition activists said rebels shot down the helicopter.  The Syrian state report did not include eyewitnesses to the alleged incident.

  • Free Syrian Army fighters walk down stairs in a damaged building in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • Twin blasts targeting Syria's army command headquarters rocked the capital on Sept. 26, setting off hours of sporadic gunbattles and a raging fire inside the heavily guarded compound, state-run media and witnesses said.
  • The Syrian official news agency SANA photo shows the remains of a vehicle and other debris where they landed after a car exploded at Syria's army command headquarters in Damascus, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter kisses the the head of his comrade, killed by a tank blast, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 26, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, looks through a mirror which helps him see Syrian troops from the other side, as he takes his position with his comrade during fighting, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces patrol the damaged area of the al-Arqoub district in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian government forces storm a building in the al-Arqoub district of Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier, right, shows his comrade how to use an RPG at a Turkish bath or Turkish Hamam which the rebels took as a base and rest position, in Aleppo, Syria, Sept. 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter fires an anti-aircraft machine gun against a Syrian Army jet in the Saif Al Dula district in Aleppo, September 19, 2012.
  • Civilians and members of the Free Syrian Army try to pull out a body from under the rubble of a building destroyed by a jet air strike in al-Kalaseh, Aleppo, Syria, September 19, 2012.

Solution nowhere in sight

Meanwhile, the Syrian government's Minister of National Reconciliation, Ali Haider, spoke to reporters in the capital Thursday.

"He too does not seem to have any great groundbreaking effort to be able to bring the two sides closer together," Arrott said.  "He spoke of this as a turning point. But again, it was very much that the rebels kind of just have to lay down their arms and say they are sorry, and that doesn't seem likely to happen."

As Syrian children started their first days of school this week, people are still pessimistic on the subject of reaching a solution to the crisis, which began in March of last year. Inside the classrooms, teachers and students hear the shelling and explosions nearby.

"Meanwhile the kids are in class trying their best to carry on, but it's a very disturbing scene," Arrott said.

Classrooms are crowded in the al-Abbassiyin neighborhood as parents bring their children from nearby towns where fighting rages.

In Syria's most populous city, Aleppo, a pro-government television station claimed Thursday government forces had advanced, killing large numbers of what it described as "terrorists." Syria's official news agency claimed that 100 Afghan fighters were killed in one district of the city.

The war of attrition inside Aleppo between government forces and rebel fighters is now in its third month.

International community weighs in

As the humanitarian crisis continues both inside and outside Syria, the government said Russia had sent 50 tons of aid to the Syrian people and would send another shipment on Friday. Deputy Social Affairs Minister Hassan Hijazi thanked Russia for the aid and accused the European Union and the U.S. of creating the humanitarian crisis by imposing economic sanctions on Syria.

Foreign supporters of the Syrian opposition's Friends of Syria group met in the Netherlands Thursday to discuss new economic sanctions against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal argued that more sanctions would help topple the Syrian president.

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the government and the opposition in Syria appear determined to resolve the crisis militarily. He told reporters that military means will not bring an answer, and the crisis should be resolved through political dialogue.

Ban said Syria will be a top issue as he meets with world leaders at the U.N. General Assembly, saying they must urgently address the situation.

Reporter Elizabeth Arrott contributed to this report from Damascus and Ed Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infectionsi
X
November 28, 2014 3:31 PM
South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video South Africa Sees Male Circumcision as Way to Reduce HIV Infections

South Africa remains plagued by AIDS despite massive government and NGO efforts on prevention and life-sustaining Anti-Retro-Viral programs. But the country has opened up another front to reduce new HIV infections: promoting circumcision. Emilie Iob reports for VOA News from a pioneering circumcision center in Orange Farm, Johannesburg.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
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.

All About America

AppleAndroid