News / Middle East

Syria Frees Hundreds of Prisoners, Continues Deadly Crackdown

Syrian pro-regime demonstrators in Tartus, Syria, 30 Nov 2011
Syrian pro-regime demonstrators in Tartus, Syria, 30 Nov 2011

Syria on Wednesday released 912 prisoners, while the country's embattled leadership continued with a deadly crackdown on dissent, despite a flood of fresh sanctions.

The government said the released people were involved in the "latest events" but were not linked to what it alleged were "murders" stemming from the opposition uprising and state crackdown.  

Activists said new clashes in the flashpoint Daraa province killed at least six civilians and seven Syrian troops Wednesday as security forces pushed into the area.

The head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdelrahman, said that fighting erupted in the town of Dael and that witnesses heard a loud explosion as army vehicles were blown up.

The latest violence came as Syria faces a barrage of new international sanctions.

Turkey suspended all financial credit dealings with Damascus Wednesday and froze its government's assets.  Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the measures include cutting off links with Syria's central bank, banning the delivery of weapons to the country and suspending the bilateral strategic cooperation agreement.

Washington praised Turkey's action.  White House National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said that "the leadership shown by Turkey in response to the brutality and violation of the fundamental rights of the Syrian people will send a strong message to President Bashar al-Assad and his circle that their actions are unacceptable and will not be tolerated."

The world's largest Islamic body, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, on Wednesday urged Syria to cooperate with the Arab League and allow a team of observers access to the country.  It also called on Syrian authorities to immediately stop the use of excessive force against its citizens.

In New York, human rights group Amnesty International held a protest outside the United Nations building Wednesday, calling for the U.N. Security Council to refer Syria's deadly crackdown on protests to the International Criminal Court.

Amnesty's Maha Abu Shama told reporters "it is high time for the U.N. body to take decisive action against Damascus" for what the group called "crimes against humanity."   

The U.N. Human Rights Council will hold an urgent meeting in Geneva Friday to discuss the situation in Syria.  The U.N. says violence related to the uprising has killed at least 3,500 people, mostly civilians.

Syria has refused to end the crackdown, calling it a necessary response to attacks by "armed terrorists" on civilians and security personnel.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
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.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs