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

    US Watching as North Korea Holds Biggest Political Meeting in 36 Years

    Workers' Party Congress set for Friday; Washington anticipating possibility of another missile launch or nuclear test as top officials gather

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    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.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    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.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora