News / Middle East

Hopes Dim for Syrian Cease-Fire

Residents hold a banner during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Kafranbel near Idlib October 19, 2012.
Residents hold a banner during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Kafranbel near Idlib October 19, 2012.
VOA News
A Syrian rights group says government warplanes have attacked a strategic rebel-held northern town in the latest setback to international efforts to secure a cease-fire during a Muslim holiday that begins this week.

The opposition Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Tuesday's air strikes targeted Maaret al-Numan, a town that rebels seized earlier this month, effectively cutting a highway linking the capital Damascus with Syria's northern financial hub of Aleppo.

The Observatory also said Syrian rebels battled government forces holed up in a nearby military base that has been under a rebel siege for days.

The rights group said neither government nor rebel forces appear to be making any preparations to adopt a cease-fire during the Eid al-Adha holiday that begins Friday, as proposed by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi.

Envoy ends visit

The envoy ended a four-day visit to Damascus on Tuesday without winning a public commitment to the truce from the government. Syrian opposition and rebel leaders also have expressed skepticism about a truce.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said he is making preparations for a Syria peacekeeping force if a cease-fire takes hold. But he said it is premature to discuss the details.

Syrian state television said President Bashar al-Assad decreed a new amnesty on Tuesday, pardoning those who committed crimes before October 23.

The Syrian government has made numerous amnesty offers since an opposition uprising began in March 2011, typically stipulating that the pardons do not cover those who took part in killings.

  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • Demonstrators hold opposition flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, after Eid al-Adha prayers, Dara, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) chats with people after prayers for Eid al-Adha at al-Afram Mosque, Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army watch for snipers during fighting against pro-government forces in Harem, Idlib, Syria, October 25, 2012.
  • Smoke is seen after pro-government forces shelled the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army stands guard during a shelling by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter smokes a cigarette as he guards his position in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Residents are seen near damaged buildings at Marat al-Numan, near the northern province of Idlib, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Children play on swings in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Turkish boys look through a shattered window after an anti-aircraft shell fired from Syria hit a health center across the border in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, October 23, 2012.
  • A building that anti-government sources said was destroyed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces is seen in Saqba, Damascus, Syria, October 22, 2012.

In other developments Tuesday, Turkish media said a Syrian anti-aircraft shell hit a Turkish health center in Hatay province near the Syrian border, but caused no casualties. Turkey has fired back at Syria several times in recent weeks after previous cases of Syrian fire landing on the Turkish side of the border.

Refugee crisis grows

Meanwhile, the U.N. refugee agency said Lebanon has become the third country in the region to host more than 100,000 registered refugees from the Syrian civil war. The UNHCR previously reported more than 100,000 Syrian refugees in both Turkey and Jordan.

UNHCR spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said recent unrest in Lebanon has temporarily disrupted the agency's operations in the country, including the registration of Syrian refugees in Tripoli, Akar, Beirut and Sidon in southern Lebanon.

"Just to note what the refugees tell us in Lebanon," she said. "As you know, none of them are living in refugee camps. They are living in local communities and they are struggling to make ends meet because they do live on the open economy.

"And, they complain of high prices," she said. "We are trying to help them through the provision of assistance depending on their circumstance. But, that is a common complaint, a common concern in Lebanon."

Fleming said U.N. refugee workers hope to resume the operations as soon as conditions allow.

About 1.5 million people are displaced inside Syria. The U.N. refugee agency says the displaced live in sub-standard public shelters and many do not receive essential aid because of security constraints.

VOA's Michael Lipin contributed to this report from Washington and Lisa Schlein from Geneva.

  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • A crowd gathers in front of damaged buildings after a car bomb exploded at Daf al-Shok district, in Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012, in this photograph released by Syria's national news agency SANA.
  • Demonstrators hold opposition flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, after Eid al-Adha prayers, Dara, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (C) chats with people after prayers for Eid al-Adha at al-Afram Mosque, Damascus, Syria, October 26, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army watch for snipers during fighting against pro-government forces in Harem, Idlib, Syria, October 25, 2012.
  • Smoke is seen after pro-government forces shelled the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army stands guard during a shelling by pro-government forces on the outskirts of Atareb, in Idlib governorate, Syria, October 24, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter smokes a cigarette as he guards his position in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Residents are seen near damaged buildings at Marat al-Numan, near the northern province of Idlib, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Children play on swings in Aleppo, Syria, October 23, 2012.
  • Turkish boys look through a shattered window after an anti-aircraft shell fired from Syria hit a health center across the border in Reyhanli, Hatay province, Turkey, October 23, 2012.
  • A building that anti-government sources said was destroyed by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces is seen in Saqba, Damascus, Syria, October 22, 2012.

You May Like

ASEAN Ministers Set to Push for South China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' More

Puerto Rico Defaults on $58M Debt Payment

Payment was due Saturday, default is first in country's 117 years as a United States possession More

Turkish Public Fears Jihadists More Than Kurds

Turkey facing twin threats of terrorism by Islamic State and PKK Kurdish separatists, says President Erdogan’s ruling AK Party More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kannan mahathevan
October 23, 2012 7:52 PM
The banner they are holding on the picture is a prediction!. This so called ceasefire issue is exactly what the world powers worked-out hand handed over to the Genocidal regime in Sri Lanka in 2009, that gave the perpetrators more time to prepare for chemical attack and so on. Mr. Assad is already in possession such dangerous weapons, so the Powers and the UN is simply giving him enough time to prepare for the launch. When everything is over Mr. Ban Ki Mon will be asked fly over the are to asses the damage. Justice may come at a later time, but what's the point), half of Syria would have perished by then. Prevention is better than the forthcoming cure!, may be the world powers want to reduce the number of Syrians?

by: Sunny Enwerem from: Nigeria
October 23, 2012 4:13 PM
Only if Assad knows the fight is beyound a sieze fire,he had his chance from his fellow Arab members but instead followed Putin Russia's call not to,and now let's see how Putin keeps him in power against the daily grown resentment,am just waiting to see.

by: Orhan Fazlioglu from: İstanbul, Turkey
October 23, 2012 10:38 AM
Almost everyone claims that Esad's days are numbered because he has been cornered somehow.Even Russia is in favour of an agreement on which parties will probably come to terms with. I believe if this meaningless war goes on it will take such a heavier tolls that noone can foresee.In the end, those involved in this carnage will feel deep remorse.Whereas, a democratic Syria will be more prosperous and independent in the region.An agreement on a prosperous and democratic Syria doesn't seem too far because no one can stand against the tide of people's demands to build more democratic and prosperous country.

Today Syria gives an image of a country whose people are rather tired of false commitments and long for a new spirit to build a nation in harmony with modern human rights.Syrian people will make this come true despite Esad's resistance.Esad should care about his people's demands and allow the democratic attempts to flourish,otherwise, not only he but also his country will pay the bill with more destruction.We saw the same picture in Iraq. Saddam Husein allowed his country to turn into shambles because of his greed for an absolute power.I hope Esad will not repeat the same mistake and let his country fall into ruins.In the eve of Edha,I hope the clashes will stop, no more tears and blood will be shed.My sincere prayers are with all who commit themselves to this sublime effort.May Allah help those who strive to stop this ugly war taking the lives of innocent babies and elderly people.Let's pray together if we have no further means except for prayers.

by: Michael from: USA
October 23, 2012 9:43 AM
Peacekeeping takes the first chance that comes along. It is freedom to have the Eid feast. This freedom is the first talk I have heard about a chance at cease-fire

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs