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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid