News / Middle East

Activist Fears Syria Will Become 'New Somalia'

A team of United Nations observers tours the Syrian town of al-Haffe with an official Syrian security escort, June 14, 2012.
A team of United Nations observers tours the Syrian town of al-Haffe with an official Syrian security escort, June 14, 2012.
VOA News
Syrian rights activists say violence across the country Wednesday has killed at least 53 people, after the head of a United Nations monitoring mission says his team is committed to staying in the war-torn country.

Rami Abdelrahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told VOA (by phone) that he fears Syria will become "the new Somalia or the new Afghanistan."

The Observatory has a network of contacts in Syria including rebels, activists and state security members.  Abdelrahman said at least 28 Syrian soldiers, one army defector and 24 civilians and rebels died Wednesday.

He said clashes, shelling and bombings killed Syrians from north of Aleppo, to the southern city of Daraa, to the eastern city of Deir Ezzor and the northwestern province of Latakia. Abdelrahman also reported deaths from attacks in Hama, Idlib and Damascus provinces.

The latest violence comes as the International Committee of the Red Cross said it is preparing to evacuate wounded people and trapped civilians from the city of Homs. The ICRC said Wednesday both sides agreed to its request for a temporary halt in fighting so the ICRC can carry out the evacuations and bring in much-needed medical supplies.

On Tuesday, the head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria said the "suffering of the Syrian people" is getting worse and that questions about canceling the monitoring mission are premature.

"I remain committed with the mission in the positions we are currently in.  We're not going anywhere," said Major General Robert Mood.

Mood told the U.N. Security Council Tuesday that attackers have targeted his 300-strong unarmed observer team several times in the last few weeks.  He says at least nine U.N. vehicles have been damaged.

Mood and U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said the mission in Syria was suspended on Saturday because of escalating violence, but team members did not leave the country. The decision was the clearest sign yet that a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan has collapsed.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama said in Los Cabos, Mexico, on Tuesday that Russia and China have "not signed on" to any plan for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's removal from power, but that both countries' leaders recognize the dangers of an all-out civil war.

Obama said the Syrian leader has lost all legitimacy and that it is impossible to conceive of any solution to the violence that leaves him in power.  The U.S. president acknowledged the lack of any breakthrough with the leaders of Russia or China, despite intensive talks.

Moscow and Beijing are long-time allies of Syria and have shielded Assad from U.N. sanctions sought by Western and Arab powers who oppose his nearly 12-year autocratic rule.

The Security Council agreed to send the observer mission to Syria in April to monitor government and rebel compliance with a U.N.-backed cease-fire agreement, but the truce never took hold. The observers' 90-day mandate expires in mid-July.


Some information for this report was provided by AP.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: James Livingston from: New Zealand
June 20, 2012 7:03 PM
Thank God China and Russia are preventing another Libya from happening. There is a real need for the UN to ban all weapons sales to both the government forces and the Sunni militants before things spin right out of control. Assad and the rebels must be pressured into dialogue. The alternative is simply too ugly.

by: Spongebob from: Edmonton
June 20, 2012 1:30 PM
Wow, to suggest that Somalia is worse than Syria? So I wonder why the US or it's gang of bullys aren't focusing more of their attentions on helping out the Somalian civilians??

by: Vis8 from: USA
June 20, 2012 10:04 AM
"Syrian Activists" = "Syrian Rebels" = jihadist extremists trying to spread over the Mid East. And the USA is helping them????????
All this for Obama and Clinton to instill a "friendly regime change"...
Four more years of this???? Pleeeeeeeeeeeeaasssssseeeeeeeeeee
In Response

by: waelaltaqi from: United States
June 21, 2012 12:28 AM
Vis8 I wonder if you are the extremist here... Fox News is all up in your head.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 20, 2012 1:10 PM
All people are looking for freedom, but you are looking for dictators.

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