News / Middle East

Arab League, European Nations Push to End Assad's Rule

Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (2008 file photo).
Syrian President Bashar Assad, right, shakes hands with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. (2008 file photo).

The Arab League says the withdrawal of monitors from Gulf Arab states will not hinder its work in Syria as France, Britain and Germany joined efforts at the United Nations to end President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

A league official, Adnan al-Khudeir said Wednesday a new group of observers is set to replace the 55 monitors from the Gulf Cooperation Council who left Syria Wednesday after their governments said they were certain "the bloodshed and killing of innocents would continue." He said the 15 Mauritanians, 10 Palestinians and six Egyptians will head to Syria within a week.

About 120 monitors already in Syria pledged to continue the mission, now extended until February 23, to verify Syria's compliance with an earlier Arab peace plan.

Arab League foreign ministers agreed to the latest transition plan Sunday and authorized the regional bloc's chief to seek support for it at the U.N.

Gulf Arab nations have become increasingly supportive of international action against Syria in recent weeks, as pro-Assad forces have continued attacking peaceful protesters and fighting deadly battles with army defectors.

But Russia says it will not support international action on Syria that may include sanctions or military intervention. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday moves by the U.N. Security Council against Syria, a long-time Russian ally, would be "unfair and counterproductive."

Moscow is a veto-wielding member of the Security Council. It joined China last October in vetoing a Western-backed resolution that would have condemned the Syrian government's violent crackdown on the revolt. Lavrov said Russia is open to what he called a "constructive" resolution on Syria that explicitly rules out any interpretation that could justify foreign military action.

Meanwhile, at least 25 UNESCO member states have joined in an attempt to remove Syria from two of the organization's committees that deal with human rights issues. Syria was named to the panels in November by UNESCO's Arab bloc. But now a number of countries - including Qatar, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, South Korea and European nations - are mounting a campaign to unseat Damascus.

In the latest violence on the ground, Syrian rights activists say government forces fired heavy weapons at the opposition hub of Hama late Tuesday and Wednesday, killing at least two people in the central Syrian city. They say security forces also killed at least five other civilians in attacks on centers of protest in Homs and Damascus.

Also Wednesday, the head of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent branch in the northern town of Idlib, Abdulrazak Jbero was shot dead in an attack the country's state news agency (SANA) blamed on "terrorists." An ICRC statement said he was riding in a "vehicle clearly marked with a Red Crescent emblem" and expressed shock at the killing.

The United Nations says violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. But U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay said Wednesday her agency has stopped compiling a death toll for Syria's deadly crackdown because it is too difficult to get information. Pillay said some areas are totally closed, such as parts of the central city of Homs, "so we are unable to update that figure."

Syrian authorities say terrorists have killed about 2,000 security force members since the unrest began.

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

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid