News / Middle East

    Syria Launches Offensive Near Airport, Cuts Internet Access

    An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike at a besieged area in Homs, November 28, 2012.
    An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike at a besieged area in Homs, November 28, 2012.
    VOA News
    Syrian forces launched a major offensive in Damascus near the country's international airport Thursday, and the government shut down Internet access across the country and slashed cell phone services in selected areas. 
     
    The army attacked rebel strongholds in a string of towns along the airport road. A rebel fighter said insurgents were not inside the airport but were able to block access to it.
     
    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the heaviest clashes erupted between troops and rebels in the towns of Babila and Hujaira, southeast of the capital, and in Harran al-Awamid, just east of the airport.
     
    The fighting, which came after Internet links went down, caused EgyptAir and Emirates airline, based in Dubai, to suspend flights to Damascus. 
     
    The wholescale Internet blackout, confirmed by two U.S.-based companies that monitor online connectivity, is unprecedented in the 20-month-long uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Authorities often cut phone lines and Internet access in areas where government forces are conducting major military operations.
     
    A pro-government television station quoted Syria's minister of information as saying "terrorists," not state agents, were responsible for the countrywide outage.
     
    The British-based Observatory said rebel units launched a new offensive in the country's north, trying to take a military base near the main highway to Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo. The Observatory said rebel forces in Idlib province began moving on Wadi al-Deif early Thursday.
     
    Opposition activists have been voicing increasing optimism that rebel forces are making gains and maintaining their positions against government forces. Some point to recent successful attacks against government warplanes and helicopters as evidence the conflict's momentum may be shifting. 
     
    There are also renewed allegations that Syrian rebels are using child soldiers in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government. 
     
    Human Rights Watch said children as young as 14 have served in rebel brigades, acting as lookouts and transporting weaponry. The human rights organization said some have even taken part in combat.

    • A view of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet, Daria, Syria, November 30, 2012.
    • Demonstrators hold a placard that reads "Victory sign over the palace," during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh, November 30, 2012.
    • People walk along a row of barb wire near the border with Syria, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 30, 2012.
    • Youths sit next to a row of barbed wire near the Syrian border, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 30, 2012.
    • An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike in a besieged area in Homs, Syria, November 28, 2012.
    • A Free Syrian Army fighter with an amputated hand, takes cover from a sniper loyal to Syria's President Bashar al -Assad, near Aleppo's historic citadel, November 28, 2012.
    • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke after a building was struck in a warplane attack in Homs, Syria, November 28, 2012.
    • A man carries parts of a warplane, belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in Daret Azzah, November 28, 2012.
    • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows people near a destroyed plane that was shot down by Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo, Syria, November 28, 2012.
    • Residents pose near damaged wheat sacks after Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, November 26, 2012.
    • Members of the Free Syrian Army and men from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain unload wheat from trucks, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.
    • Smoke rises from damaged wheat sacks after Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, November 26, 2012.
    • Residents walk near debris from damaged buildings after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 26, 2012.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 25, 2012.

    You May Like

    Video Pop Icon Prince Quietly Helped Afghan Orphans for Years

    He sent thousands of dollars to help an aid group rebuild a training center for orphan boy and girl scouts in Kabul, but kept his involvement secret

    Mali, a Way Station for Syrians Headed to Europe

    Another door may be closing for Syrians fleeing the conflict in their country, this time in Africa

    Britain’s Muslims See London Mayor Race as Victory

    Mere running of 45-year-old former government minister and son of Pakistani immigrants Sadiq Khan seen by many as turning point

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Major Variola
    November 29, 2012 3:03 PM
    At least the Brotherhood has MANPADS now.

    How's that workin' out for ya?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    December 01, 2012 9:27 AM
    Air travel will now be more risky thanks to the "friends of Syria".

    by: GB from: Florida
    November 29, 2012 2:02 PM
    How is it that an ottoman era building has reinforcing steel bar in the roof?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labori
    X
    May 05, 2016 6:44 PM
    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Donations Rescue Afghan Parents, Children From Forced Labor

    A Facebook campaign organized by a VOA radio host raised 150,000 Afghan rupees to rescue a family from forced labor at a brick kiln in Nangarhar province – the result of the father’s unpaid debt. Video by a VOA reporter in Jalalabad went viral this week and triggered the Facebook campaign.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Troops Recount Firefight Which Killed US Navy SEAL

    A U.S. Navy SEAL killed Tuesday, when Islamic State fighters punched through Kurdish lines in northern Iraq, was part of a quick reaction force sent to extract other U.S. troops trapped by the surprise offensive. VOA's Kawa Omar spoke with Kurdish troops in the town of Telskuf -- the scene of what U.S. officials called a "dynamic firefight."
    Video

    Video British Lawmakers Warn EU Exit Talks Could Last A Decade

    Leaving the European Union would mean difficult negotiations that could take years to complete, according to a bipartisan group of British lawmakers. While the group did not recommend a vote either way, the lawmakers noted trade deals between the EU and non-EU states take between four and nine years on average. Henry Ridgwell reports on the mounting debate over whether Britain should stay or exit the EU as the June vote approaches.
    Video

    Video NASA Astronauts Train for Commercial Space Flights

    Since the last Shuttle flight in 2011, the United States has been relying on Russian rockets to launch fresh crews to the International Space Station. But that may change in the next few years. NASA and several private space companies are developing advanced capsules capable of taking humans into low orbit and beyond. As VOA's George Putic reports, astronauts are already training for commercial spacecraft in flight simulators.
    Video

    Video US Worried Political Chaos in Iraq Will Hurt IS Fight

    The White House is expressing concern about rising political chaos in Iraq and the impact it could have on the fight against the Islamic State. The U.S. says Iraq needs a stable, central government to help push back the group. But some say Baghdad may not have a unified government any time soon. VOA's White House correspondent Mary Alice Salinas reports.
    Video

    Video Press Freedom in Myanmar Fragile, Limited

    As Myanmar begins a new era with a democratically elected government, many issues of the past confront the new leadership. Among them is press freedom in a country where journalists have been routinely harassed or jailed.
    Video

    Video Taliban Threats Force Messi Fan to Leave Afghanistan

    A young Afghan boy, who recently received autographed shirts and a football from his soccer hero Lionel Messi, has fled his country due to safety concerns. He and his family are now taking refuge in neighboring Pakistan. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from Islamabad.
    Video

    Video Major Rubbish Burning Experiment Captures Destructive Greenhouse Gases

    The world’s first test to capture environmentally harmful carbon dioxide gases from the fumes of burning rubbish took place recently in Oslo, Norway. The successful experiment at the city's main incinerator plant, showcased a method for capturing most of the carbon dioxide. VOA’s Deborah Block has more.
    Video

    Video EU Visa Block Threatens To Derail EU-Turkey Migrant Deal

    Turkish citizens could soon benefit from visa-free travel to Europe as part of the recent deal between the EU and Ankara to stem the flow of refugees. In return, Turkey has pledged to keep the migrants on Turkish soil and crack down on those who are smuggling them. Brussels is set to publish its latest progress report Wednesday — but as Henry Ridgwell reports from London, many EU lawmakers are threatening to veto the deal over human rights concerns.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora