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

UN Fears Rights Violations in China-backed Projects

UNHCHR investigates link between financing development and ignoring safeguards for human rights More

Boko Haram Violence Tests Nigerians’ Faith in Buhari

New president has promised to stem insurgency; he’s scheduled to meet with President Obama at White House July 20 More

Social Media Network Wants Privacy in User’s Hands

Encryption's popularity in messaging is exploding; now it's the foundation of a new social network 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.
Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugeesi
X
Carolyn Weaver
July 06, 2015 6:47 PM
In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.

VOA Blogs