News / Middle East

    Ban Decries 'Massive' Violation of Rights in Syria

    A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows anti-regime demonstrators during a protest in Homs province, May 25 , 2012. A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows anti-regime demonstrators during a protest in Homs province, May 25 , 2012.
    x
    A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows anti-regime demonstrators during a protest in Homs province, May 25 , 2012.
    A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows anti-regime demonstrators during a protest in Homs province, May 25 , 2012.
    VOA News
    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon says the "stepped-up security crackdown" by the Syrian government is leading to "massive violations of human rights" by both sides of the conflict.

    In a report to the U.N. Security Council Friday, Ban said the presence of unarmed U.N. observers is "having a calming effect" but the overall level of violence in Syria remains "quite high".

    Earlier Friday, the activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces had killed more than 50 people, including 13 children, in Houla in Homs province.


    The group said government forces also shot and killed four people in the flashpoint Hama region and another person in southern Daraa province. Details of the incidents were not available.

    The killings came as Friday prayers ended in Syria, and protesters spilled on to streets in major cities including Damascus and Aleppo, calling for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad.  

    Although hundreds of United Nations observers are in the country, there appears to be little sign that violence between rebels and government forces is subsiding.

    The continued unrest has strained a six-week-old cease-fire which is part of a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan.

    The Reuters news agency quoted an Annan spokesman as saying the envoy would travel to Syria "soon" for what would be his first visit since presenting the peace plan in March.

    And the violence is having an impact in northern Lebanon, where ethnic clashes between opponents and supporters of Assad have left at least 11 dead and over 100 wounded in recent days .

    VOA's Scott Bobb reports from northern Lebanon that tensions there are still running high.

    "Historically, Syria has wielded a great deal of influence in Lebanon, its smaller neighbor, and even occupied it for years up until a few years ago. Although Syria did withdraw a few years ago, the influence is still there and it is resented by many people. In this particular case, in Tripoli, what happened was a Salafist sheikh, the Sunni Islamist, was killed at a checkpoint. He was known to be opposed to the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and this raised tensions with the local Allawite community, to which President Mr. Bashar al-Assad belongs."

    A dozen Lebanese Shi'ite pilgrims who were kidnapped in Syria this week while returning to Lebanon from Iran were released on Friday. While it was unclear who was behind the incident, it set off protests in Shi'ite areas of Beirut and a regional diplomatic spat.

    "This is again another irritation or aggravation of the sectarian fault lines that exist in both societies. These are Shi'ite pilgrims in Syria who were captured by someone. It was claimed it was by the Syrian rebels, although the rebels denied it. Some of the anti-Damascus people [in Lebanon] said this was just one more act by the Syrian regime to try to sow dissent and curry favor for its cause," Bobb said.

    You May Like

    Video Rubio Looks to Surge in New Hampshire

    Republican presidential candidate has moved into second place in several recent surveys and appears to be gaining ground on longtime frontrunner Donald Trump

    UN Calls for Global Ban on Female Genital Mutilation

    Recent UNICEF report finds at least 200 million girls and women alive today have undergone female genital mutilation in 30 countries

    UN Pilots New Peace Approach in CAR

    Approach launched in northern town of Kaga Bandoro, where former combatants of mainly Muslim Seleka armed group and Christian and animist anti-Balaka movement are being paid to do community work

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ali Ridda
    May 26, 2012 3:39 PM
    Unless NATO intervenes in Syria immediately, the number of innocent Syrian children that would have been murdered by the Assad dictatorship will be beyond imagination. If NATO forces do not come to Syria, when the Assad dictatorship falls the revenge killings that will occur on a scale much larger than the horrific crimes we are witnessing today.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.