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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey 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.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid