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

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    Factions Shift as Civilians Die in Syrian War

    Scenario likely only to further confuse military situation on ground and potentially worsen humanitarian crisis that already has grown to epic proportions

    Presidential Hopefuls Woo Minorities, Evangelicals

    Four GOP candidates to speak at forum at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina

    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.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.