News

    Security Council Divided Amid Calls for Halt to Syrian Violence

    US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, listens as  British Foreign Minister William Hague, left, addresses a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 12, 2012.
    US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, right, listens as British Foreign Minister William Hague, left, addresses a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 12, 2012.

    The United States, Britain and Russia have each called for a halt to the violence in Syria, but the United Nations Security Council remains divided on how to resolve the crisis in the country.

    Security Council foreign ministers met Monday in New York, following a two-day trip to Syria by former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan that ended without a settlement.  Annan is scheduled to meet Tuesday in Ankara with members of the Syrian opposition.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Russia and China to join international "humanitarian and political efforts" to end the violence, which she blamed directly on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's "military machine."

    "There must be a cessation of violence by the Syrian regime first and foremost," she said. "Then we can move toward asking others - who will no longer need to defend themselves because we will be in a political process - to end their own counter-violence."

    Her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, agreed that Syrian authorities "bear a huge share of responsibility." But he insisted that armed elements of the Syrian opposition also are responsible for the crisis, and that the Security Council must act "without imposing any prejudged solutions."

    "Cease-fire is an absolute must and we sincerely hope that the mission headed by Kofi Annan would succeed in developing some ideas which would make it possible for us to agree on how to stop the bloodshed immediately, how to stop the fighting, irrespective of the source of the violence," he said.

    Russia and China have vetoed Security Council resolutions condemning the Syrian government's deadly crackdown on its opponents. They say the resolutions call for interfering in Syria's internal affairs.

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Security Council has "failed" in its responsibilities to the Syrian people and that the diplomatic challenge now is to build on areas where the international community agrees.

    "It is encouraging that everybody is talking about a political process. Everybody is now talking about humanitarian aid being delivered, about a cessation of violence and everybody on the United Nations Security Council of course is supporting the work of Kofi Annan," he said. "So there are now many common elements, but the task of bringing them together in a resolution remains."

    On Monday, investigators told the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva that Syria's government has subjected civilians to collective punishment and that its forces are accused of carrying out executions and mass arrests in Homs.

    U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos visited the city last week, including a stop in the battered district of Baba Amr.  She told reporters in New York Monday that she was "horrified by the destruction" she saw there and is worried about the condition of the area's residents.

    "I am extremely concerned as to the whereabouts of the people who have been displaced from Baba Amr by the shelling and other violence. I was told that some 50-60 thousand people used to live in the area. We need to know what has happened to them, where they are now, and what they need," she said. "We also need to know where the wounded are, and whether they are receiving treatment."

    Her comments came as Syrian activists and the government traded blame for the deaths of dozens of men, women and children in the Homs neighborhood of Karm el-Zeytoun.

    Activists said soldiers and pro-government militias were responsible for the killings.  State-run media in Damascus confirmed the deaths, but said "armed terrorists" had killed the victims and filmed their bodies in order to influence discussions at the United Nations in favor of "foreign interference" in Syria.

    Both sides deny responsibility. Syrian restrictions on independent reporting make it impossible to reconcile the contradictory accounts of the killings.

    Amateur videos posted on the Internet show the mutilated corpses of at least 45 victims in the neighborhood where the deaths occurred Sunday. The Syrian Network for Human Rights said the army arrested several families and took them to "shabiha" militias in nearby neighborhoods known for supporting the government. The London-based group said about 30 men were tortured, shot, doused with gasoline and set on fire, and that women and children were killed separately.

    Leaders of the Syrian National Council, the main expatriate opposition group, later issued a statement calling for the international imposition of a no-fly zone, safe corridors for civilians, and weapons for the Free Syrian Army.

    U.N. officials estimate that 7,500 people have died in the year-long violence.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
    Middle East Voices
    . Follow our Middle East reports on
    Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora