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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe 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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs