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.
 

You May Like

Brutality Eroding IS Financial Support

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper says IS's penchant for publicizing beheadings, other brutal forms of punishment hurts group’s bottom line More

Studies: Climate Change a Factor in Disasters in Syria, California

The studies point to the possibility of clear and present dangers from a threat often considered to be far in the future More

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials and human rights organizations assert that Pakistani authorities are using deadly attack at school in Peshawar as pretext to push out Afghan refugees More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukrainei
X
March 03, 2015 3:11 AM
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Kerry Seeks Assurances of Russian Non-Interference in Ukraine

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that his country could face further consequences to what he called its “already strained economy” if Moscow does not fully comply with a cease-fire in Ukraine. The two met, on Monday, on the sidelines of a U.N. Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva, where Kerry outlined human rights violations in Russian-annexed Crimea and eastern Ukraine. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports from Geneva.
Video

Video Smartphones May Help in Diagnosing HIV

Diagnosing infections such as HIV requires expensive clinical tests, making the procedure too costly for many poor patients or those living in remote areas. But a new technology called lab-on-a-chip may make the tests more accessible to many. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Refugees Complain of Harassment in Pakistan

Afghan officials have expressed concern over reports of a crackdown on Afghan refugees in Pakistan following the Peshawar school attack in December. Reports of mass arrests and police harassment coupled with fear of an uncertain future are making life difficult for a population that fled its homeland to escape war. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports from Islamabad.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Prepare to Defend Mariupol

Despite the ongoing ceasefire in Ukraine, soldiers in the city of Mariupol fear that pro-Russian separatists may be getting ready to attack. The separatists must take or encircle the city if they wish to gain land access to Crimea, which was annexed by Russia early last year. But Ukrainian forces, many of them volunteers, say they are determined to defend it. Patrick Wells reports from Mariupol.
Video

Video Moscow Restaurants Suffer in Bad Economy, Look for Opportunity

As low oil prices and Western sanctions force Russia's economy into recession, thousands of Moscow restaurants are expected to close their doors. Restaurant owners face rents tied to foreign currency, while rising food prices mean Russians are spending less when they dine out. One entrepreneur in Moscow has started a dinner kit delivery service for those who want to cook at home to save money but not skimp on quality. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video US, Cuba Report Progress in Latest Talks to Restore Ties

The United States and Cuba say they have made progress in the second round of talks on restoring diplomatic relations more than 50 years after breaking off ties. Delegations from both sides met in Washington on Friday to work on opening embassies in Havana and Washington and iron out key obstacles to historic change. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas reports from the State Department.
Video

Video Presidential Hopefuls Battle for Conservative Hearts and Minds

One after another, presumptive Republican presidential contenders auditioned for conservative support this week at the Conservative Political Action Conference held outside Washington. The rhetoric was tough as a large field of potential candidates tried to woo conservative support with red-meat attacks on President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. VOA Political Columnist Jim Malone takes a look.
Video

Video NYC's Restaurant Week: An Economic Boom in Fine Dining

New Yorkers take pride in setting world trends — in fashion, the arts and fine dining. The city’s famous biannual Restaurant Week plays a significant role in a booming tourism industry that sustains 359,000 jobs and generates $61 billion in yearly revenue. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports.
Video

Video Brookhaven at Cutting Edge of US Energy Research

Issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, fracking and instability in the Middle East are driving debate in the U.S. about making America energy independent. Recently, the American Energy Innovation Council urged Congress and the White House to make expanded energy research a priority. One beneficiary of increased energy spending would be the Brookhaven National Lab, where clean, renewable, efficient energy is the goal. VOA's Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Southern US Cities Preserve Civil Rights Heritage to Boost Tourism

There has been a surge of interest in the American civil rights movement of the 1950s and '60s, thanks in part to the Hollywood motion picture "Selma." Five decades later, communities in the South are embracing the dark chapters of their past with hopes of luring tourism dollars. VOA's Chris Simkins reports.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More