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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows to Fight IS 'Until They Are Killed or We Die'

In wide-ranging interview with VOA Persian service reporter, Fuad Masum describes conflict as new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs