News / Middle East

New Syria Clashes, Government Expels Envoys

This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network (ENN), purports to show Syrian rebels gathered on their vehicle in the northern town of Kfar Nebel, in Idlib province, Syria, June 5, 2012.This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network (ENN), purports to show Syrian rebels gathered on their vehicle in the northern town of Kfar Nebel, in Idlib province, Syria, June 5, 2012.
x
This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network (ENN), purports to show Syrian rebels gathered on their vehicle in the northern town of Kfar Nebel, in Idlib province, Syria, June 5, 2012.
This citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network (ENN), purports to show Syrian rebels gathered on their vehicle in the northern town of Kfar Nebel, in Idlib province, Syria, June 5, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Fierce clashes between government troops and opposition forces in Syria's western Latakia province are further dimming hopes that diplomats can salvage a cease-fire and end the bloodshed.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the latest battles broke out Tuesday in the city of Haffeh and surrounding villages, where rebel forces had taken over several police stations.  

The Observatory's Rami Abdurrahman said at least 15 government soldiers and at least three rebel fighters have been killed in what he described as the heaviest clashes in the Latakia region since the start of the 15-month-long conflict.

In Jeddah, Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said prospects for ending the violence looked bleak. Prince Saud al-Faisal said Gulf Arab states have "begun to lose hope" that a cease-fire proposed by United Nations and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan could help.

Syria expels envoys

Syria announced Tuesday it is expelling diplomats of several nations in response to the recent expulsions of Syrian diplomats.

The Syrian government said its expulsion order includes the ambassadors and other staff of the United States, Britain, France and Turkey. Some of those diplomats already had been withdrawn from Syria in protest at the government's crackdown on the uprising.

The rebel Free Syrian Army said Monday it is no longer bound by an April cease-fire agreement, and some military analysts warn the conflict has already passed the so-called "point of no return."

As the conflict widens, the Syria government agreed to allow the United Nations and international agencies to expand humanitarian operations in battered areas of the country, a senior U.N. aid official said on Tuesday.

China on Tuesday said it remains united with Russia in opposing foreign intervention in Syria's conflict.  Russian President Vladimir Putin talked with Chinese leaders including President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Tuesday.  

China and Russia have repeatedly blocked efforts by Western and Arab nations who are pushing for regime change in Syria and have put sanctions on the Syrian government and its leaders.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton meets with allies in Turkey Wednesday to discuss how best to pursue a political transition to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Clinton said Tuesday that it is "pretty clear" that the main focus of international diplomacy must be on intensifying efforts to change Syria's leadership.

"We believe there is a way forward and we are going to continue to pursue that and we invite the Russians and the Chinese to be part of the solution of what is happening in Syria," she said. "Peace and human dignity will not be possible in Syria without political change."  

Protracted fight

Dan Goure, vice president with the Lexington Institute in Arlington, Virginia, tells VOA that Syrian government forces and the opposition are locked in protracted fight.  "We are seeing the beginnings, maybe even the second phase, of a full-blown rebellion or even civil war in Syria."

The Syrian state news agency SANA confirmed on Tuesday the killings in recent days of more than 80 security personnel including a brigadier general in attacks by rebels. The Syrian Observatory has reported intensified rebel attacks on government checkpoints in recent days.

Goure says the most recent fighting shows the situation on the ground has changed, with far-reaching implications.

"Clearly the rebels are getting more capable and they're receiving support, weapons, possibly even training, from outside sources," he said. "And most importantly, after a year of efforts, the Syrian military is, has been unable to suppress this.  So this doesn't look good for Assad's government.  All the trend lines are in the wrong direction."

Speaking in Istanbul Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reiterated his country has no intention to intervene inside Syria's borders but also warned "the fire raging within Syria will engulf the whole region."  

Despite concerns, the chairman of the U.N. Syria Humanitarian Forum sees the deal Tuesday to allow more aid into Syria as a sign of hope.

John Ging told reporters in Geneva the deal represents a "step of progress."  But he, too, is cautious.

"Whether this is a breakthrough or not, will be evident in the coming days and weeks, and it will be measured not in rhetoric, not in agreements, but in action on the ground," Ging said.

International mediator Kofi Annan is due to brief the U.N. Security Council on the Syrian conflict on Thursday and will discuss the issue with U.S. Secretary of State Clinton in Washington on Friday.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

Analysts Warn of Regional Proxy Conflict in Afghanistan

Analysts warn if Kabul’s neighbors do not start to cooperate, competing desires for influence could deteriorate into a bloody proxy war in the country More

Saudi Intelligence Chief Resigns

Bandar bin Sultan came under criticism for supporting al Qaida, prompting King Abdallah to wrest Syria operations away from him in February, handing them to Interior Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef More

Poetry Magazine editor Don Share talks what makes a good poem with VOA's David Byrd

What makes a good poem? And is poetry as viable an art form as it once was? To find out, VOA's David Byrd spoke to Don Share, the editor of Poetry Magazine. 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.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid