News / Middle East

Obama, National Security Team Meet on Syria

FILE - President Barack Obama speaks at the White House, Aug. 9, 2013.FILE - President Barack Obama speaks at the White House, Aug. 9, 2013.
x
FILE - President Barack Obama speaks at the White House, Aug. 9, 2013.
FILE - President Barack Obama speaks at the White House, Aug. 9, 2013.
VOA News
Top U.S. military and national security advisors have presented President Barack Obama with a detailed set of options for responding to the Syrian government's alleged use of chemical weapons.

The White House, in a statement Saturday, said the meeting was called to set an action plan -- if it is determined Syrian forces used chemical weapons against civilians, as aid workers and rebels allege.

The statement also said the president conferred Saturday with British Prime Minister David Cameron, as the U.S. intelligence community continues to gather facts on the alleged chemical warfare. Both men voiced "grave concern" about the weapons allegations.

The White House security meeting, attended by Vice President Joe Biden, CIA Director John Brennan and National Security Advisor Susan Rice -- comes just days after accusations that more than 1,000 people were killed near Damascus in a chemical weapons attack.

A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen, Aug. 21, 2013.A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen, Aug. 21, 2013.
x
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen, Aug. 21, 2013.
A man, affected by what activists say is nerve gas, breathes through an oxygen mask in the Damascus suburbs of Jesreen, Aug. 21, 2013.
The international medical relief group Doctors Without Borders, known by its French acronym MSF, said Saturday three Damascus hospitals have received about 3,600 patients displaying symptoms of exposure to neurotoxic agents.

The symptoms included convulsions and blurred vision, and MSF said nearly 10 percent of those patients have died. Some of the medical and first aid workers treating the people brought in for medical care also found themselves contaminated.

The relief group said the overall situation strongly indicates the local population suffered "mass exposure to a neurotoxic agent," which it said "would constitute a violation of international humanitarian law."

In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.
x
In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.
In this photo taken on a government organized tour, canisters and other material that the Syrian military says it uncovered in a raid on a rebel hideout are lined up, in the Jobar neighborhood of Damascus, Aug. 24, 2013.
Syria has denied all allegations of chemical weapons use. State-controlled media have claimed it was rebel forces that carried out nerve gas attacks. The state news agency SANA reported that soldiers found evidence of this while searching tunnels in Damascus used by "armed terrorists."

The United States and other world powers have been pushing for a United Nations-led investigation of the chemical weapons allegations. A top U.N. official arrived in Damascus Saturday to push for access to the site where rockets loaded with poison gas were allegedly launched.

Syrian opposition leaders and activists have released video of large numbers of bodies - many of them young children - that bear no signs of physical violence. Those pictures, and separate scenes from hospitals showing patients writhing in agony without apparent wounds - are said to be persuasive indications that they were victims of an attack that used nerve gas or some other deadly chemical agent.

Iran's new president, Hassan Rouhani, condemned the use of chemical weapons in Syria, but state-controlled Iranian media report he did not blame either side in comments Saturday. Iran is Syria's ally, and its Foreign Ministry has previously said evidence indicates that Syrian rebels launched the attack.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

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