News / Middle East

Russia Digs In on Assad as Violence Intensifies

Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during ceremony, the Kremlin, Jan. 2005 (file photo).
Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin shake hands during ceremony, the Kremlin, Jan. 2005 (file photo).
VOA News
The head of the U.N. observer force in Syria has accused both rebels and government troops of stoking violence in the country, a charge that comes as Russia hardens its position against Western pressure to topple embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Major General Robert Mood said Friday that fighting over the past 10 days has been "willingly intensified by both parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks to our observers." He said the escalating attacks could prompt his unarmed force to pull out.

The Syrian government continued its offensive against rebel-held areas Friday. Fierce fighting was reported throughout Aleppo province and in the central city of Homs.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said security forces are also shelling opposition areas and clashing with rebels in Douma and Damascus. Scores of people have been killed over the past few days amid the intensified fighting.

Russia denies post-Assad planning
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied his government is discussing plans for a political transformation in Syria. He said Russia does "not get involved in overthrowing regimes - neither through approval of unilateral actions by the U.N. Security Council nor by participation in any political plots."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland suggested Thursday Washington and Moscow were discussing a post-Assad strategy for Syria.

In an interview on French radio, France's Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said discussions among U.S., French and Russian officials -- along with international mediator Kofi Annan -- are underway to prepare for a Syria without its current leader.

Russia, along with China, has vetoed two U.N. Security Council resolutions against Assad and has vowed to oppose any military intervention.

With international efforts to mediate an end to the bloody conflict stalled, members of Syria's fractured opposition met in Istanbul Friday in an attempt to settle their differences and present a unified front.

Opposition leader Ammar al-Qurabi said their aim is not necessarily to find a replacement for President Assad, but to bring democracy to Syria.

"The problem is not about the shape or any umbrella," he said. "We discuss paper, we discuss democracy. The people fight Assad because they hate the dictatorship."

The meeting, which includes delegates from the U.S., Britain, and France, comes as world powers made tentative plans to hold a June 30 summit in Geneva to revive international envoy Kofi Annan's shattered U.N.-backed peace plan.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch said Friday that Syrian forces are using sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the country's 15-month anti-government uprising.

The New York-based rights group released a statement saying soldiers and pro-government armed militias are sexually abusing girls as young as 12 years old. The group based its report on interviews with former detainees who described being sexually abused or witnessing abuses, including rape, beatings and electric shocks.

The group says it documented more than 20 incidents of sexual assault between March 2011 and March 2012, with most of the cases occurring in Homs.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: yooper2001 from: USA
June 16, 2012 7:14 AM
Putin wants to return to iron curtain days. He longs to get all countries to form the old USSR. If he had his way, he would want to be a czar. I live in Russia and i predict a revolution within 5 years

In Response

by: Mike
June 18, 2012 3:09 AM
I agree. Only one correction - Putin has already become a tsar, and has more power than the last Russian Tsar.Putin has increasingly becomes impudent both domestically and abroad. This is because the West has very weak political leaders from Obama to Angela Merkel. Putin and his colleagues as well as the Soviet authorities understand the language of force only.


by: CAO DAI from: Vietnam
June 16, 2012 12:41 AM
The My Lai Massacre was the Vietnam War mass murder of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968, by United States Army soldiers of "Charlie" Company of 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the Americal Division. Most of the victims were women, children, infants, and elderly people. Some of the bodies were later found to be mutilated[2] and many women allegedly raped prior to the killings.[3] While 26 US soldiers were initially charged with criminal offenses for their actions at Mỹ Lai, only Second Lieutenant William Calley, a platoon leader in Charlie Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but only served three and a half years under house arrest (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Lai_Massacre).
Where was the Human Rights Watch at that time?


by: kafantaris from: USA
June 15, 2012 8:08 PM
Why do we expect Russia to act differently than it has on Syria? Can we not see that Syria is somewhat of a microcosm of Russia? For decades strong rulers have governed both countries -- effectively denying their citizens a say so in their government. If Russia helps fix things in Syria, it will need to fix them next at home.
Why then would Putin help us with a regime change in Syria, which has even become an opportunity for him at home to showcase Russia's strength in the world? Better to stick with the old script and raid the offices of political opponents or drum up bogus charges against businessmen.
Forget Russia then. When the ground starts to shake under their feet, these boys stick with their friends.
But nothing will stop the steamroller of the Information Age that is barreling down on the Putins, the al-Assads and the Ayatollahs of this world. And they are too drunk with power to get out of the way.


by: Charles Koelsch from: Providence, RI usa
June 15, 2012 5:37 PM
Do unto others... A country would only ever condone the actions of the Syrian government against its own people because that country would want to have that justification and support to do the same to its own people.


by: Joe Zrnchik from: Highland, Indiana, US
June 15, 2012 5:34 PM
When a no-fly zone expanded into a many months long bombing campaign in Libya I guess one could have also said the violence "intesified". Yet, not a word was spoken in condemnation by the West who wanted banking and oil dominance over Gadaffi's country. But, if the Us really wants the violence to subside it need do nothing more than stop sending heavy weapons to al Qaeda radicals now trying to overthrow Assad. Also, since we found out the people massacred were Alawite Shiites killed by Sunni foreign fighters we seem to have heard little about the correction. Maybe you guys can bring back the old "Assad is giving out Viagra to allow soldiers to rape women" meme again. I can never figure out how it is the general public can be more stupid than the press.


by: terry
June 15, 2012 4:27 PM
How come the US and Russia can no agree on anything! I think in the long run they have been right on a lot of things like. Afghanistan

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid