News / Middle East

Syrian Attacks Continue as Mass Protests Spread

U.N. observers from China at at hotel in Damascus before heading to areas where protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been taking place, May 18, 2012.U.N. observers from China at at hotel in Damascus before heading to areas where protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been taking place, May 18, 2012.
x
U.N. observers from China at at hotel in Damascus before heading to areas where protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been taking place, May 18, 2012.
U.N. observers from China at at hotel in Damascus before heading to areas where protests against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been taking place, May 18, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Syrian government troops pounded the rebel stronghold, Rastan, and parts of the flashpoint city, Homs, Friday, amid widespread anti-government protests across the country. Meanwhile, the head of the United Nations observer forces urged both the government and the opposition to engage in dialogue to end the violence.

Witnesses say Syrian security forces fired tear-gas and live rounds to break up a student protest in Aleppo Friday. The demonstration was billed as the largest of its kind in Syria's northern commercial hub since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

The protests come after Syrian security forces disrupted a student demonstration in Aleppo on Thursday. Video taken from a U.N. vehicle in Aleppo Thursday showed security forces beating student protesters.

On Friday, Syrian state television showed an empty boulevard in front of Aleppo University's medical college, saying there were “no significant demonstrations.” But video posted by opposition groups on the Internet showed large crowds gathering in the streets.

Arab satellite channels also broadcast large protests in parts of Idlib province, Homs, Daraa and the capital, Damascus. Signs held up by the protesters called for “solidarity” with the student demonstrators in Aleppo.

Syrian government troops fired heavy artillery at Rastan Friday. Several videos showed shells hitting parts of the city. Other videos showed government troops shelling parts of nearby Homs.

In Damascus, the head of the joint U.N.-Arab League observer team, Norwegian Gen. Robert Mood, told reporters that 260 observers are in Syria out of the expected 300. He said he was “worried” about fresh violence, but says his men were having a positive effect on the situation:

“We are seeing in the areas where we are deployed that we have both a calming effect on the ground and we are seeing that we are having a good dialogue and the dialogue is expanding both with the authorities and with the opposition elements,” Mood said.

Mood called for a “dialogue” between the opposition and the government, saying his team was incapable of bringing about a “permanent end to the violence” absent of “the commitment to give dialogue a chance.”

Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, said that it will be impossible to hold a dialogue without a way to force the Syrian government to comply with a cease-fire and peace plan developed by international envoy Kofi Annan. The month-old cease-fire has been marred by repeated government attacks and rebel strikes.

Diab says Mr. Annan's plans should be declared a failure, forcing the international community to develop a new Syria strategy.   He says, otherwise violence will escalate.

Also on Friday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he believes al-Qaida was behind twin bombings in Damascus, last week, that killed 55 people.  He says such involvement would create "very serious problems."

A group calling itself the "Nusrat Front" claimed responsibility earlier this week for the blasts.  However, many analysts say claims of al-Qaida involvement have yet to be proven and may not be credible.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous from: America
May 19, 2012 10:24 AM
No matter how many children that are tortured or women raped or families burned to death or Syrians murdered by the Assad Gangster Regime it will not change this reality. It is a matter of time before the brutal rule of the Assad family will come to an end. Whether by running away to another country, being hung from a gallows or dragged out of a sewer, the Assads will meet their end. Fake elections will not change this fact. You can’t pay hired killers when you run out of money. The cost of the uprising is draining the Syrian economy. When the money is gone, so will the power Assad has over the Syrian population.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid