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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora