News / Middle East

Russia Sends Naval Ships to Mediterranean, Eyes Syria Evacuation

Russian Navy amphibious landing vessel Caesar Kunikov (2012 photo)Russian Navy amphibious landing vessel Caesar Kunikov (2012 photo)
x
Russian Navy amphibious landing vessel Caesar Kunikov (2012 photo)
Russian Navy amphibious landing vessel Caesar Kunikov (2012 photo)
VOA News
Russia has sent warships to the Mediterranean after some of its senior diplomats said last week that Moscow may call for the evacuation of Russian citizens in Syria if the government in Damascus falls.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday that ships from its Baltic Fleet would replace other vessels that have been patrolling the Eastern Mediterranean since November.

The country's Interfax news agency quoted unnamed naval sources as saying the vessels were bound for Syria "to assist in a possible evacuation of Russian citizens."

The report, which could not be confirmed, comes a day after Russia acknowledged that two of its citizens and an Italian working in Latakia province were kidnapped late Monday and that their captors have demanded a ransom for their release.

In another kidnapping incident in Syria, the chief foreign correspondent for the U.S. television network NBC said Tuesday that he and his production crew were freed unharmed from their five-day abduction during a firefight at a checkpoint set up by Islamist rebels.

Richard Engel told NBC from safety in Turkey that his team's kidnappers were members of a pro-government Shabiha militia loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

He said the three-man NBC crew was abducted when anti-Assad rebels they were driving with were ambushed by heavily armed men who "executed" one of the rebel escorts.

Engel said his group was then taken to a series of safehouses where they were subjected to "a lot of psychological torture" with threats of being killed and mock shootings. He said he was told the kidnappers wanted to exchange them for four Iranian agents and two Shabiha members held by Syrian rebels.

Their ordeal, which began shortly after crossing into Syria from Turkey last Thursday, ended when the captors drove unexpectedly into the rebel checkpoint.

Also Tuesday, Syrian activists said fierce fighting broke out in a Palestinian refugee camp in Damascus where rebels opposed to Assad have been trying to push out pro-government fighters.

A rebel spokesman said the Yarmouk camp is strategically significant because it could "open one of the best doors into central Damascus." Residents said that by late Tuesday the Syrian military had deployed several tanks along camp's main entrance.

The clashes come two days after activists reported Syrian warplanes bombing the camp and killing eight people.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said Tuesday the conflict is eating away at the country's healthcare system, leaving citizens without access to basic services.

A WHO spokesperson in Geneva said that in some places, including the western city of Homs, there are only a handful of doctors still working.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: YaValioCacaWates from: USA
December 19, 2012 8:49 PM
King Putin, and King al-Assad are two of a kind. I pity Russia and Syria for having to put up with them.

by: Anonymous
December 19, 2012 11:02 AM
The Syrian war could of been over long ago if it wasn't for the Russians. Thousands and thousands of Syrian lives could of been saved. Instead Putin was more concerned about lining his wallet with funding for weapons and anywhere else he could make a few bucks. Now that Putin has shown the world that stopping the Syrian war to save thousands of innocent people, would not be in Russias interest, now Russia must go, and never come back to Syria again. Shame on you Putin, you have blood all over your hands because of Syria. No different than what Putin did in Chechnya, disgusting. Karma is a wonderfull thing.

by: Michael from: Canonsburg, Pa.
December 19, 2012 2:24 AM
We have been mercenaries or should I say MamlukJanizeries for the Saudi Arabian Sunni Caliphate since 9/11/01. We have destabilized or destroyed every Shia leade within a thousand miles of Riyadh. After the Saudi-Arabian Sunni jihadist attacked Manhattan , America responds by attacking the Shia dictator in Iraq. From there we destabilized Afghanistan and now retreat so that the Saudi-Controled Sunni wahabist can control Afganistan+ Pakistan. We eliminated the Shia leader of Libya and established the Saudi-Contrled Sunni Caliphate in Libya and now depose a Shia leader ijn Syria and have plans to attck the last Shia stronghold in Iran at the behest of Israel and Saudi Arabia. We have created a virtual Saladin or Suileman the Magnificent empire for the royal family of Riyadh and it only cost us trillions of dollars and thousand of American infidel lives.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 18, 2012 4:10 PM
Reports of kidnappings by "Shia terrorists" are spreading, the modus operandi point to one organization. Comments made by Assad's regime, by Iran's leadership, and more importantly by the head proxi-terrorist Nasrallah (Hezbolah..) are in my opinion indicative that Nas.. has deployed his terrorists into Syria to fight on behalf of the Assad gang. Kidnapings of foreigneirs, especially, journalist and western looking people are right in line with Hezbolah past tactics. Given the type of weapons that Nas.. and his terrorists have, their involvement in Syria may be a significant escalation of the conflict, it will lay waste to Sunny muslim communities, as they did in Lebanon.. Such involvement will extend the suffering of the Syrian people; and it is very likekly that they will use Syrian territory to engage and attempt to expand the conflict into Jordan and even Israel. It is now a situation ,no question about it, in which the friends of the Assad opposition need to expand the support provided to the freedom fighters.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
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 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 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.

VOA Blogs