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

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground 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.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid