News / Middle East

Fighting Rages in Syria, Turkey Closes Key Crossings

Henry Ridgwell
ONCUPINAR, Turkey - Fierce fighting continued in Syria on Wednesday. Rebels sent reinforcements to the battered historic city of Aleppo as government forces stepped up attacks with helicopters and machine guns.
 
Activists say rebels set fire to a police station near Aleppo. They also say clashes and heavy shelling have continued in regions including Homs, Hama, Deir el-Zour and the Damascus suburbs as President Bashar al-Assad tries to maintain his grip on power.
 
The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 40 people have been killed across Syria on Wednesday.

Watch related video of violence in Aleppo:

Turkey Closes Border

Neighboring Turkey has closed key border crossings to commercial traffic from Syria but says they remain open for refugees.
 
Ankara says it is taking the measure due to security concerns. Last week, Turkish drivers said their trucks were looted and burned as rebels captured the Syrian side of the Cilvegozu crossing from government forces.
 
Analysts say the closures will affect Syria's economy by hitting cross-border trade.
 
At the Kilis refugee camp near Oncupinar, Syrian refugee Abu Hasan expressed support for Turkey's policy. "I think this is an appropriate decision," he said. "Turkey is making the decision to protect its border as well as to protect us."
 
The Killis camp houses more than 11,000 Syrians.
 
Refugees Increasing
 
The number of refugees is increasing, with most using clandestine smuggling routes over the border.
 
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay says more than 44,000 refugees are now sheltered in Turkey.
 
"There is an expectation that more people may come in," he said. "Therefore, today we have decided to build new camps in several locations including Osmaniye, Kahramanmaras and Nizip."
 
The Arab League has pledged $100 million to help the Syrian refugees.
 
Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal says Turkey welcomes donations of equipment, but does not need personnel.
 
"Some of this assistance has arrived, in the sense of material assistance, and we are ready to receive more of the selected items that we have announced," he said. "And our open door policy will continue."

Reducing the U.N. Mission
 
Meanwhile, U.N. observers in Syria say their mission is dwindling.
 
Herve Ladsous, the head of U.N. peacekeeping operations, said the Syrian operation continues on a "reduced basis."
 
He told reporters in Damascus on Wednesday that the security situation in many parts of the country is "extremely delicate."

  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider firing his weapon during clashes with Syrian government troops in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers at the border town of Azaz, 32 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider driving a Syrian military tank in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show a helicopter gunship flying a bombing run in al-Qalmoun, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image provided by Shaam News Network shows smoke rising from Juret al-Shayah in Homs, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show damage from heavy shelling of the al-Qadam district of Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in a house in Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 16, 2012.
  • A woman holds a child in front of their destroyed home in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers northwest of Hama, July 14, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers aim their weapons in Idlib, northern Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011 purports to show a funeral for victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012. (AP/ Hama Revolution 2011)
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011purports to show families gathered around bodies of victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army walk through Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 15, 2012.
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council approved a resolution renewing the observer mission for up to 30 days. The resolution allows for a pullout if the violence does not stop.
 
Earlier this week, the European Union decided to strengthen its arms embargo against the Syrian regime, blacklist nearly 30 government-associated people and companies, and ban the Syrian national airline from landing in EU countries.
 
On Wednesday, Russia's foreign ministry expressed opposition to the EU sanctions, saying they could be seen as a "blockade" of the country.
 
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Analyst: Joint-Arab Military Force Poses Perilous Challenge

Although international forces are desperately needed to counter the threat of the Islamic State group, analysts say conflicting alliances could escalate fighting More

Asia’s Middle Class Changes Demand for Wheat Grain Exporters

Changes in tastes and diets are boon for wheat exporters such as Australia and the United States More

S. African Comedian Taking Over Popular TV Show

Mixed-race comedian Trevor Noah, who is loved for his edgy jibes about race and language, is taking the helm from Jon Stewart at The Daily Show in US More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Joseph Zrnchik from: Highland, IN
August 05, 2012 4:55 AM
Michael from Cleveland,

That Iraq was a Sunni state when the US attacked does not mitigate the fact that there were hundreds of thousands of Shiites killed and that during the occupation the US fought non-Sunni militias as much as they did the "Baathist Dead-enders". In fact, the US ended up making allies of the "Sons of Iraq" and the "Awakening Councils" which were Sunni militias as the US was fighting Shiite SCIRI (later SIIC), the Badr Brigades and the Madhi Army, not to mention the scores of local Shiite militia groups that had established checkpoints and controlled neighborhoods.

That Saddam was Sunni does not mean he had a relationship with al Qaeda or bin Laden. He despised them as much as Iraqi and Iranian Shiites did/do.

As far as tactical brilliance, this is an overstatement. Tanks and heavy artillery are never good tools for fighting in a built up areas as MOUT requires street-to-street, house-to-house and room-to-room fighting that is man-power intensive and will deplete any force. Saddam was an idiot for trusting the U.S. and leaving Kuwait only to have the US stab him in the back on the Highway of Death after he agreed to return his army to Iraq and was promised safe passage by the U.S.

But, how smart is it if what you seek to win lies completely in ruins because you fought and destroyed what you could have won through negotiation? All al Qaeda did was destroy the homes and businesses that Sunnis lived in and worked at. They refused to negotiate and ended up destroying their own land. Do you think the al Qaeda imports care about the common person's house or job? They are all radical jihadists. Assad wanted to provide reforms, but the US would rather destroy all of Syria, in fact wanted to destroy all of Syria to marginalize it and use it to get under Iran's skin for Israel. So, now we will see how much these Sunni fighters will end up under the Iraq government's and Jordanian government's skin as these Sunnis death squads begin their terror and destruction campaign.

Mark my words, the US will curse the day it made alliances with al Qaeda.

by: east from: China
July 26, 2012 2:44 AM
Two dogs are flighting at home,then a tiger and a fewer wolves will take the opportunity to kick out ur door,finally the two dogs will..................

by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 9:28 PM
You just keep sipping your tea Lavrov, Putin, and Medvedev while thousands are being tortured, raped, and less terrible killed.

I hope you wear that cup of tea you are sipping, you guys have proven time after time you are useless to the world. Show the world you care someday, you care nothing about anyone but money in your own pockets, from weapons, black market or any other way you can get it. I pray for your country to overthrow you guys.

by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 9:20 PM
Funny how the Russians use the RT.com website to promote their propaganda, comical...

Lavrov states "US position on Syria directly endorses terrorism"

What an idiot and so is anyone who listens to him, we in the west believe that "Russian Government position in Syria directly endorses genocide, and Russia has only one interest there, not the innocent civillians, just their navy base, it's evident."

If the Russian Government had any care in the world for the Syrian people as a whole, they would of told Assad to get out of town... But because Russia has backed the leader Assad for many years, Russia cares nothing about the Syrian people, just accepting money and likely bribes from Assad.

by: Michael from: Cleveland
July 25, 2012 7:43 PM
First let me say that Iraq was lead by Sunni before the war and only after did the Shiite get into a position of power. So Joseph Zrnchik from: Highland, IN should check his facts and take some time to really understand the world. And please stay away from the Kool aid, it rots your brain.
Second, I really do not know how well organized the FSA is and my guess is not very well. I do not know if it is strategy or just dumb luck but, what they are doing is brilliant tactically. The core of the Syrian army is armor and heavy weapons and that requires both a lot of logistics and maintenance to keep them in the field. By attacking Damascus and waiting a few days and going into Aleppo and retreating from Damascus they are forcing all of this to move constantly. If they do this right they will back out of Aleppo and go back after Damascus while the whole time harassing the supply convoys and staging areas with small groups. There are some other areas they can hit also to force the army to try to defend everywhere at once and be unable to defend anywhere.
Art of war, Still as true today as it ever was :)

by: Anonymous
July 25, 2012 4:32 PM
Of the 40 killed today how many were terrorists? Likely none.
Likely innocent men, women and children. There is only one terrorist in Syria, his name is Assad, terrorizing his own people. I hope FSA gets their hands on him soon...It will be a happy ending just like Saddam & Ghadaffi. Seeing as Assad has chosen to go down with the ship, I hope he pays through the nose and then some.

by: Burak from: Turkey
July 25, 2012 2:59 PM
Turkey always help people no matter what their nation is.As always did in the past.

by: Joseph Zrnchik from: Highland, IN
July 25, 2012 8:03 AM
The militants are al Qaeda funded by Saudi Arabia. This is proof the Saudi government was connected to the 9/11 attacks on the US. Yet, since Bush was buddies with the bin Laden family we decided to attack a Shiite Iraq for what a Sunni Saudi did on 9/11. That makes as much sense as attacking Canada for what a Mexican drug lord did. Then we supported these al Qaeda fighters in Libya and now we are doing it in Syria. I thought we fought a decade long war to stop al Qaeda. So, why are we now supporting them? Another peice of evidence that shows the War on Terror is just a scam to put Americans under a police state.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More