News / Middle East

    Chemical Weapons Experts in Syria Have Security Fears

    A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares ammunition inside a cave in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib, Syria, Oct. 17, 2013.
    A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares ammunition inside a cave in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib, Syria, Oct. 17, 2013.
    VOA News
    The chemical weapons experts tasked with ridding Syria of its arsenal say security is a concern after car bombs and mortar attacks hit near the team's Damascus hotel.

    Malik Ellahi, a senior official at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, told reporters Thursday that so far security issues have not kept inspectors from doing their work.

    He said teams have visited 11 sites declared by Syria to be part of its chemical weapons program, and have destroyed equipment at six of them. The inspectors are due to complete that phase of their mission by November 1, and destroy all of Syria's chemical weapons by the middle of next year.

    Syria, deaths from conflict, Oct. 17, 2013Syria, deaths from conflict, Oct. 17, 2013
    x
    Syria, deaths from conflict, Oct. 17, 2013
    Syria, deaths from conflict, Oct. 17, 2013
    Meanwhile, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said a long-proposed peace conference is scheduled to take place November 23 and November 24.  

    He said during a news conference in Moscow the talks are as close as ever to happening, and that they would take place in December, if not next month.

    "Today we are getting closer to Geneva II than ever before. After our talks in the Russian Foreign Ministry, we agreed on the dates of the conference, or at least on the presumed dates," said Jamil,

    The United States and Russia have been trying for months to bring the Syrian government and opposition together to find a negotiated political solution to the crisis. Proposed time frames for the talks have been scrapped repeatedly as disagreements continue over who will take part and under what conditions.

    Also Thursday, a Canadian lawyer working for a U.N. peacekeeping mission in Syria has escaped from rebel fighters who held him for eight months. Syrian state television showed Carl Campeau being handed over to the senior U.N. official in Damascus, Yacoub El-Hillo, by deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad.

    Campeau said he managed to escape this week when his captors "forgot to lock the door" of the house where he was being held.

    A rebel source said at the time of Campeau's disappearance that he was being held for ransom by a rival brigade of Syrian rebels battling to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

    • Al-Bouydah, south of Damascus, after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad took control of it from the Free Syrian Army, Oct. 17, 2013. (SANA)
    • Damage in a mosque in al-Bouydah, south of Damascus, after soldiers loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad took control of it from the Free Syrian Army, Oct. 17, 2013. (SANA)
    • Firefighters try to extinguish a fire after a mortar bomb landed in Damascus, in this handout photograph distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, Oct. 15, 2013.
    • This image taken from video from the Shaam News Network shows smoke billowing amid buildings after a bomb explosion in Daraya, outside Damscus, Oct. 15, 2013.
    • Civilians gather at a site of a collapsed building that activists said was shelled by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Deir al-Zor, October 14, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters fire anti-tank missiles during what they said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Hama countryside, Oct. 14, 2013.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter reacts during what the FSA said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the eastern Hama countryside, Oct. 14, 2013.
    • This image made from citizen journalist video posted by the Shaam News Network shows the aftermath of a car bomb attack on a market in the town of Darkoush in Idlib province, Oct. 14, 2013.
    • People gather around the wreckage after two suicide car bombs exploded in the center of the Syrian capital Damascus, Oct. 13, 2013. (SANA)

    You May Like

    Vietnam Urges US to Lift Lethal Weapons Ban Amid S. China Sea Tensions

    US president’s upcoming visit to Vietnam underscores strength of relationship, and lifting embargo would reflect that trust, ambassador says

    Are US Schools Turning a Blind Eye to Radical Qatari Preachers?

    Parade of radical Islamist clerics using mosque at Qatar’s Education City draws mounting criticism for American universities that maintain satellite branches there

    South Pole Diary: In Round-the-clock Darkness, Radiant Moon Shines Like the Sun

    You hear more and see more when the moon first comes out; it’s your senses in overdrive, tuning into a new world.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora