World News

Snipers Fire at UN Chemical Weapons Team in Syria

The United Nations says unidentified snipers have shot at one of the vehicles carrying U.N. chemical weapons inspectors in the Syrian capital.

The U.N. team is trying to investigate a suspected major chemical weapons attack that took place last week in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta.

Rebels and activists say government forces used chemical weapons that killed hundreds of people. The government denies the allegations, and has accused the rebels of using such weapons.

A spokesman for Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the U.N. team's vehicle was shot at multiple times, rendering it "no longer serviceable." The inspectors returned to a government checkpoint, but planned to continue their work with a new vehicle.

Mr. Ban said earlier Monday that the mission's success could deter the future use of chemical weapons in Syria and elsewhere.



"All those in Syria have a stake in finding out the truth. The whole world should be concerned about any threat or sue of chemical weapons, and that is why the world is watching Syria."



The United States is criticizing Syria for not allowing the inspectors into the site until five days after the attack.



A senior State Department official said in a statement late Sunday that Secretary of State John Kerry told Mr. Ban and his counterparts in Britain, France, Russia and Canada that Syria should have stopped shelling the area and given access to inspectors immediately after the attack last week.

Western powers have expressed fears that the delay would enable evidence of a chemical attack to degrade or be removed.

The official said Kerry told the diplomats there is "little doubt" Syrian forces used chemical weapons against civilians, and that President Barack Obama is studying the incident before deciding on a "responsible way forward."

Meanwhile, in response to a British newspaper's report that Britain and the United States are planning to use force in Syria, a White House official said Mr. Obama "has not made a decision to undertake military action."

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Sunday that U.S. forces are prepared to take action against Syria, if the president approves.

Russia's foreign ministry said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov expressed "deep concern" about such statements about military readiness when he spoke to Kerry on Sunday.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad further warned in an interview published Monday in a Russian newspaper that any U.S. military intervention would fail.

Mr. Assad also reiterated his government's denial of using chemical weapons last week, saying some of his forces were in the Ghouta area and that deploying the weapons at that time would be illogical.

France and Britain, which have been critical of the Syrian government throughout the more than two-year crisis, are weighing their own responses.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Monday it may be possible to act without unanimous consent on the U.N. Security Council. Russia and China have used their veto power on the council to block efforts to sanction Syria.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said no decisions have been made yet. He noted the challenge of acting without the blessing of the Security Council, but said the only option he is ruling out is not responding at all.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said his government is ready to join an international coalition against neighboring Syria, even if the Security Council is not united.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriagei
X
May 21, 2015 4:14 AM
The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.
Video

Video Women to March for Peace Between Koreas

Prominent female activists from around the world plan to march through the demilitarized zone dividing North and South Korea to call for peace between the two neighbors, divided for more than 60 years. The event, taking place May 24, marks the International Women's Day for Peace and Disarmament and has been approved by both Koreas. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan Following Record High Poppy Crops

Afghanistan has seen record high poppy crops during the last few years - and the result has been an alarming rise in illegal drug use and addiction in the war-torn country. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem has this report from Kabul.
Video

Video America’s Front Lawn Gets Overhaul

America’s front yard is getting a much-needed overhaul. Almost two kilometers of lawn stretch from the U.S. Capitol to the Washington Monument. But the expanse of grass known as the National Mall has taken a beating over the years. Now workers are in the middle of restoring the lush, green carpet that fronts some of Washington’s best-known sights. VOA’s Steve Baragona took a look.

VOA Blogs