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

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    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.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora