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.
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 Some of those diplomats already had been withdrawn from Syria in protest at the government's crackdown on the uprising.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

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid