News / Middle East

Red Crescent Evacuates Three Wounded Syrians from Homs

The International Committee of the Red Cross says Syrian aid workers have evacuated several people from a Homs neighborhood besieged by government forces, but have failed to rescue a group of Western journalists trapped in the area.

An ICRC spokesman in Geneva says Syrian Arab Red Crescent ambulances entered the rebel-held district of Baba Amr on Monday, evacuating three wounded Syrians. He says the aid workers were not able to evacuate the Western journalists, two of whom are wounded, or to retrieve the bodies of two others killed in a shelling attack last week.

The ICRC has been negotiating with the Syrian government and the rebels for days to try to secure access to Baba Amr, where local activists say many people are short of water, food and medical supplies after more than three weeks of daily government bombardments.

Syrian rights activists said more than 60 people were killed trying to flee the attacks on the central city of Homs, a hub of Syria's 11-month uprising against autocratic President Bashar al-Assad. It was not clear where or when the people were killed. Syrian state news agency SANA also said 16 security personnel were buried after being killed in fighting with rebels.

The United Nations' top human rights body is due to hold an urgent meeting on the Syrian crisis in Geneva Tuesday. The Associated Press says it obtained a draft Council resolution that would call on the Syrian government to end attacks on civilians and would condemn Damascus for "widespread and systematic violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms."

Qatar's Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani said Monday the rebel Free Syrian Army should be given weapons to defend the Syrian people. Qatar has been one of President Assad's strongest Arab critics.

In other developments Monday, Syria drew a mixed international response to its holding of a referendum a day earlier on approving a new constitution. Damascus said 90 percent of voters approved the new constitution, which allows the creation of a multi-party system and sets presidential term limits in a country ruled solely by the Baath Party since 1963. But the reforms also would enable President Assad to keep much of his power.

China and Russia welcomed the Syrian referendum. The two powers have repeatedly blocked the U.N. Security Council from condemning or punishing Damascus for its deadly crackdown on the opposition revolt.

But U.N. spokesman Eduardo del Buey said the referendum is "unlikely to be credible" in the context of what he called "pervasive violence and massive human rights violations." He said the end of the Baath Party's monopoly on power "could be part of a political solution" to Syria's unrest, but any vote would have to take place in conditions "free of violence and intimidation."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland dismissed the referendum as "absolutely cynical." She also called the reforms "ridiculous," saying they require any new opposition party to receive government approval, enabling Mr. Assad to "hand pick who gets to be in the opposition and who does not."

Syrian opposition groups say the only acceptable solution to Syria's crisis is for President Assad to step down.

European Union foreign ministers also tightened sanctions on Syria's central bank and froze the assets of several Syrian officials on Monday. The bloc already had blacklisted about 150 other Syrian entities and people.

U.N.-appointed investigators estimate the death toll from the uprising at 6,400 civilians and 1,680 army defectors. Syrian officials have insisted the government is fighting only foreign-backed armed "terrorists."

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

You May Like

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs