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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid