News / Middle East

    Syria to Propose Cease-fire at Peace Conference

    Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, listens during a news conference in Moscow, August 21, 2012. Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, listens during a news conference in Moscow, August 21, 2012.
    x
    Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, listens during a news conference in Moscow, August 21, 2012.
    Qadri Jamil, Syria's deputy prime minister for economic affairs, listens during a news conference in Moscow, August 21, 2012.
    VOA News
    Syria's government has said it will call for a cease-fire at a proposed United Nations-backed peace conference aimed at ending the country's civil war.

    Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil told The Guardian the conflict has reached a stalemate, saying neither the government nor the rebels are strong enough to defeat each other.

    He told the British paper the Syrian government would also propose an "end to external intervention" and the start of a "peaceful political process" at the long-delayed conference in Geneva.

    The United States and Russia have been trying for months to bring together members of Syria's government and rebel forces to the so-called Geneva Two talks.

    An earlier round of talks last year ended in failure with neither side represented. Syria's divided opposition has boycotted the talks until President Bashar al-Assad resigns.

    International efforts to come up with a political solution to the conflict have been revived following a U.S.-Russian deal that requires Assad to give up his chemical weapons.

    Before the deal emerged, the U.S. had threatened to carry out limited military strikes to punish the government for allegedly making an attack using chemical weapons that killed hundreds in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus last month.

    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday that the U.N. Security Council should move quickly to formalize the proposal. It has already been tentatively agreed to by Russia and Syria.

    Kerry also said a U.N. report released earlier this week shows overwhelming evidence that President Assad's forces carried out the attack, which the U.S. says killed more than 1,400 people.

    How Are Chemical Weapons Destroyed?

    • Chemical agents can be destroyed by incineration or neutralization
    • The U.S. Army has 5 portable units capable of destroying chemical weapons armed with explosives
    • Operators put the weapon in a sealed container and remotely detonate charges to set off the weapon
    • Operators then add chemicals to the sealed container to neutralize the weapon
       
    Source: US Army
    "Sarin was used. Sarin killed. The world can decide whether it was used by the regime which has used chemical weapons before, the regime which had the rockets and the weapons, or whether the opposition secretly went unnoticed into territory they don't control to fire rockets they don't have containing sarin that they don't possess to kill their own people. And that without even being noticed, they just dissembled it all and packed up and got out of the center of Damascus controlled by Assad. Please," said Kerry.

    President Assad denied his forces launched the poison gas attack. He says it was instead carried out by rebels who have been infiltrated by al-Qaida-linked fighters that he says make up the majority of the opposition against him.

    Meanwhile on Friday, Rebels of the Free Syrian Army have reached a cease-fire with fighters from an al-Qaida-linked group after clashes over control of a northern Syrian town, an activist group says. The Northern Storm Brigade, loyal to the Free Syrian Army, and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) agreed to an immediate ceasefire in Azaz, near the Turkish border, and an exchange of prisoners, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.


    Syria's main Western-backed opposition coalition condemned Islamist extremists within the rebel ranks on Friday. The Syrian National Coalition said Friday the behavior of the al-Qaida-linked fighters is "contrary to the Syrian revolution."

    The statement said the ISIL has "foreign agendas" and has carried out "repeated repressive practices of civilians, doctors, journalists and political activists in recent months."

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Doris Loadburp from: UK
    September 20, 2013 9:39 AM
    The Pentagon has put together a plan to equip and train “moderate” Syrian rebel forces. The move would mark the first instance of the American military having direct contact with the opposition. Information regarding the new plan was relayed by two Obama administration officials to CNN (The Circus News Network, state run propaganda). The idea has allegedly been under consideration since the first evidence emerged of a massive chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on August 21. The US maintains the attack was carried out by Assad’s government. Though the two officials did not cite many specifics on the proposal, the effort would involve training that would take place in a country near Syria. However, weapons would not be directly supplied as the Pentagon has no authority to do so.

    “We have any number of options under development that could expand our support to the moderate opposition, but no decision has been taken at this point,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey told reporters on Wednesday.

    The Pentagon’s plan would involve US troops training selected rebels on the use of small arms, along with command and control and other military tactics. “The path to the resolution of the Syrian conflict is through a developed capable moderate opposition, and we know how to do that,” Dempsey said at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing earlier this month. “I think that subsequent to that, we would probably return to have a discussion about what we might do with the moderate opposition in a more overt way,” he added.

    According to the Obama administration officials, the idea of training rebel groups may face poor timing as the US is currently engaged with both Syria and Russia in a plan to put the country’s chemical weapons stockpiles under international control. Increased hostility among moderates and the extremist Al-Qaeda-affiliated wing may further complicate plans to intervene on behalf of the Syrian opposition.

    On Tuesday, Syrian rebels turned on one another in the border city of Azaz, located next to Turkey. Clashes were reported in the area between the Free Syrian Army and fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The fighting reportedly broke out after the ISIS attempted to abduct a German doctor from a local hospital guarded by an FSA unit. The physician was accused of being a spy. The ISIS, which is believed to have superior equipment by way of Gulf states supplying arms, was reported to have sent 600 reinforcements from the city of Raqqa to bolster its control over Azaz, which lies on a vital supply route for Syrian rebels.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.