News / Middle East

Assad Visits Displaced Syrians Outside Damascus

Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) speaks with women during his visit to displaced Syrians in the town of Adra in the Damascus countryside March 12, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) speaks with women during his visit to displaced Syrians in the town of Adra in the Damascus countryside March 12, 2014, in this handout photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
Reuters
— President Bashar al-Assad visited displaced Syrians in the town of Adra on Wednesday, state media said, in a rare public appearance outside the heart of Damascus.
 
State television said Assad inspected a shelter for people displaced by fighting in Adra, which lies about 12 miles (20 km) northeast of central Damascus and was partly captured by rebels three months ago.
 
A picture on the presidency's Twitter account showed Assad, in a dark jacket and white shirt, talking to a group of women at a building identified as the Dweir shelter.
 
Syrian television said Assad was “listening to their needs” and told them that the state would continue “to secure basic necessities for the displaced until they can return to their homes in Adra and elsewhere”.
 
Assad has made few public appearances since Syria's conflict began three years ago. Wednesday's trip underlined his increasing confidence just 18 months after rebels appeared to be challenging his control over the capital.
 
Adra, close to rebel strongholds east of Damascus which are under siege by Assad's forces, is located by the main highway running north from Damascus to Homs which the army has fought to secure from rebel fighters over the last year.
 
Many residents fled Adra in December when mainly Sunni Muslim rebels took over part of the town and killed 28 people in a sectarian attack targeting Druzes, Christians and Alawites - the same sect to which Assad belongs.
 
Adra had a population of about 100,000 including Alawites, Druzes, Christians and Sunni Muslims before the conflict erupted.
 
The Syria crisis, which began with protests against more than 40 years of Assad family rule, became militarized after authorities cracked down on demonstrators and has descended into a civil war in which 140,000 people have been killed.
 
Assad's forces, backed by Shi'ite powers Iran and Hezbollah, are fighting Syrian rebels backed by foreign jihadis and have secured much of the center of the country. Authorities have rejected opposition calls for Assad to step down and are preparing for a presidential election later this year.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnelsi
X
July 24, 2014 4:42 AM
The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video MH17's 'Black Boxes' Could Reveal Crash Details

The government of Malaysia now has custody of the cockpit voice and flight data recorders from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which was hit by a missile over Ukraine before crashing last week. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports, the so-called black boxes may hold information about the final minutes of the flight.
Video

Video Living in the Shadows Panel Discussion

Following a screening of the new VOA documentary, "AIDS - Living in the Shadows," at the World AIDS conference in Melbourne, a panel discussed the film and how to combat the stigma associated with HIV/AIDS.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid