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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs