News / Middle East

Syrian Defection Prompts Calls for Sanctions

French President Francois Hollande addresses third meeting of the
French President Francois Hollande addresses third meeting of the "Friends of Syria," Paris, July 6, 2012.
VOA News
World leaders meeting in Paris have called for new global sanctions against Syria, as news emerged that a top Syrian general has defected.

Representatives of more than 100 nations called for "broader and tougher" penalties against Damascus as part an effort to pressure the Syrian government to end a deadly crackdown on dissent. The so-called "Friends of Syria" group also pledged to "massively increase" aid to Syrian rebels and provide them with communications equipment.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the group he wants all options to remain on the table because Syria's situation is getting worse.  

"We don't rule out any options for the future because it is deteriorating," said Hague. "It is a very grave situation. It is a murdering regime and we want to see a peaceful transition.  But we are not ruling anything out for the future."

While the session was underway, the French foreign ministry said Syrian Brigadier General Manaf Tlass had defected. News reports say the commander of an elite Republican Guards unit could be heading to France, where he has family.

After the meeting, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the departure indicates Syria's situation is shifting.

"If people like him and like the generals and colonels and others who recently defected to Turkey are any indication, regime insiders and the military establishment are starting to vote with their feet," Clinton said.

Later, a U.S. defense spokesman (Captain John Kirby) in Washington called the defection of the brigadier general "significant."

Meanwhile, activists say anti-government protests took to the streets in several Syrian provinces on Friday.

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least more than 50 people were killed in anti-government related unrest.  The reports could not be independently verified.  

Although reports from the ground say Syrian government forces have initiated most of the violence, authorities in Damascus contend they have been the victims of attacks by "terrorists" and "armed gunmen."  On Friday, the state-run SANA news agency said security officials seized weapons and explosives from a "terrorist" hideout in the city of Latakia.


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

You May Like

Tunnel Bombs Highlight Savagery of Aleppo Fight

Rebels have used tunneling tactic near government buildings, command posts or supply routes to set off explosives; they detonated their largest bomb this week under Syria's intelligence headquarters More

Sierra Leone Launches New Initiative to Stop Ebola Spread

Government hopes Infection and Prevention Control Units, IPC, will help protect patients and healthcare workers More

UN Official: Fight Against Terrorism Must Not Violate Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights says efforts by states to combat terrorism are resulting in large scale rights violations against the very citizens they claim to defend More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boyi
X
Jeff Seldin
March 05, 2015 2:36 AM
A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Video Claims to Show Shia Forces in Iraq Executing Sunni Boy

A graphic mobile phone video is spreading on the Internet, claiming to show Iraqi forces or Shia militia executing a handcuffed Sunni boy. Experts have yet to verify the video, but already Islamic State followers are publicizing it across social media, playing on deep-rooted sectarian fears. VOA’s Jeff Seldin reports.
Video

Video Ukrainian Authorities Struggle to Secure a Divided Mariupol

Since last month's cease-fire went into effect, shelling around the port city of Mariupol has decreased, but it is thought pro-Russian separatists remain poised to attack. For the city’s authorities, a major challenge is gaining the trust of residents, while at the same time rooting out informants who are passing sensitive information to the rebels. Patrick Wells reports for VOA.
Video

Video Volunteer Gauge-Watchers Help Fine-Tune Weather Science

An observation system called CoCoRaHS is working to improve weather science, thanks to thousands of volunteers across the country who measure precipitation in their own backyards, then share their data through the Internet. VOA's Shelley Schlender reports.
Video

Video NASA Spacecraft Approaches a Dwarf Planet

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft will make history on Friday, March 6, when it becomes the first man-made object to orbit a dwarf planet named Ceres. It is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, almost 500 million kilometers from Earth. Among other objectives, Dawn will try to examine two mysterious bright white spots detected on the planet’s surface. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Muslims Radicalized Online

Young Muslims are being radicalized ‘in their bedrooms’ through direct contact with Islamic State or ISIL fighters via the Internet, according to terror experts. There are growing concerns that authorities and Internet providers are not doing enough to counter online extremism - which analysts say is spread by a prolific network of online supporters around the world. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video African Americans Recall 1960's Fight For Voting Rights

U.S. President Barack Obama and thousands of people will gather in the small southern U.S. city of Selma, Alabama, Saturday, March 7th to commemorate the 50th anniversary of a historic voting rights march that became known as “Bloody Sunday." VOA’s Chris Simkins traveled to Alabama and introduces us to some of the foot soldiers of the voting rights struggles of the 1960’s.
Video

Video Positive Messaging Transforms Ethiopia's Image

Ethiopia was once known for famine and droughts. Now, headlines more often point to its fast-growing economy and its emergence as a regional peacemaker. How has Addis Ababa changed the narrative? VOA's Marthe van der Wolf reports.
Video

Video Cyber War Rages Between Iran, US

A newly published report indicates Iran and the United States have increased their cyber attacks on each other, even as their top diplomats are working toward an agreement to guarantee Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon and to free Iran from international sanctions. The development is part of a growing global trend. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Answers Elude Families of MH370 Passengers

For the families on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, an airline official’s statement nearly one year ago that the plane had lost contact with air traffic control at 2:40 AM is the only thing that remains confirmed. William Ide reports.

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