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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
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 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 US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
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.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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