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 Some of those diplomats already had been withdrawn from Syria in protest at the government's crackdown on the uprising.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

New England Bears Brunt of US Blizzard

Boston, surrounding region grapple with as much as 3 feet of snow, coastal flooding; leaders in New York, spared most severe weather, criticized for being overly cautious More

China Lifts Lid on Sale of Fake Goods Online

A recent survey found nearly 60 percent of a random sample of items bought from Taobao were fake More

Upward Aims to Create Old-girls Network in Silicon Valley

Lisa Lambert, an executive with Intel Corp.'s venture-capital unit, responds to the gender-disparity debate by creating a new social organization 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.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid