News / Middle East

Syria Continues Crackdown Despite Pledges to Arab League

Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad gather in Hula, near Homs in this undated handout released November 4, 2011.
Demonstrators protesting against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad gather in Hula, near Homs in this undated handout released November 4, 2011.
Elizabeth Arrott

Syrian activists say government forces have killed at least 13 more civilians Friday, the first post-Friday prayer protests since authorities agreed to an Arab League plan to stop the violence.

The Syrian opposition say among the dead are victims of sniper attacks and artillery fire. Activists say tanks were used against protesters in the Baba Amr district of Homs, one of the hardest hit areas during the uprising.  Demonstrators were out in huge numbers Friday, to see how the government would adhere to promises it made Wednesday at the Arab League to pull armed forces from the streets, stop attacks on civilians and begin a dialogue with its opponents.  

Protesters clapped and chanted in Deir ez Zor, and other towns and cities across the country, but most found not much had changed. According to the opposition, troops once again surrounded mosques after midday prayers, firing weapons to keep people from congregating.

In Hama, would-be protesters shouted "God is great" as troops opened fire.  State media countered with reports of more casualties among government forces, accusing "armed terrorist groups" -- a phrase the government often used to describe protesters -- of killing personnel in Homs, Hama and Idlib.

Interior Minister Mohammad al Shaar said Friday the government was urged all those with weapons to turn themselves in and offered an amnesty to anyone who had not committed a "serious" crime.  

Al Shaar added that the move was made because of the government's concern for its citizens and to protect them criminals.

A member of the opposition Syrian National Council, Adib Shishakli dismissed the move.   

"That's a continuation of their game: telling people we're trying to withdraw our forces  from the street, but there are armed people against us and we want them to give their arms up.  The only armed people are them," Shiskakli said.  

Speaking from Istanbul via Skype, Shishakli added the opposition remains committed to peaceful protest.

Skype interview with Adib Shishakli, member of the Syrian National Council

U.S. officials were also skeptical of the offer of amnesty, advising Syrians not to turn themselves in to the authorities.

Arab League officials conceded they had no guarantees that Syria would keep its promises, saying only they would call another meeting should the violence continue.  But many of the country's military defectors say they will remain committed to peaceful protest against the government, at least for now.

You May Like

Is Air Travel Safe?

Aviation expert says despite tragic losses of Malaysian Airlines flights 370 and 17, industry experienced lowest fatality rate in recorded history last year More

Multimedia 100 Days Later, Nigerian Girls Still Held

Activists holding rallies in Nigeria and several other countries to mark 100th day of captivity for more than 200 schoolgirls being held by Boko Haram More

Chocolate Too Bitter? Swap Sugar for Mushrooms

US food technology company develops fermentation process using mushrooms to reduce bitterness in cocoa beans, believes it will cut sugar content in candy More

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.
US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israeli
X
Carolyn Presutti
July 23, 2014 1:21 AM
The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video US Carriers Suspend Travel to Israel

The United States is prohibiting American carriers from flying to Israel's airport in Tel Aviv for 24 hours, because of rising violence between Israel and Hamas militants. The action was announced on Tuesday, after a rocket fired by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip landed near the airport. As VOA's Carolyn Presutti tells us, international officials soon may have to determine which combat zones are too dangerous for commercial flights.
Video

Video NASA Focuses on Earth-Like Planets

For decades, looking for life elsewhere in the universe meant listening for signals that could be from distant civilizations. But recent breakthroughs in space technology refocused some of that effort toward finding planets that may harbor life, even in its primitive form. VOA’s George Putic reports on a recent panel discussion at NASA’s headquarters, in Washington.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video US Awards Medal of Honor for Heroics in Bloodiest of Afghan Battles

U.S. combat troops are withdrawing from Afghanistan, on pace to leave the country by the end of this year. But on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama took time to honor a soldier whose actions while under fire in Afghanistan earned him the Medal of Honor. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.

AppleAndroid