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.
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

Nearly Every Job in America Mapped in Detail

A nifty map pinpoints practically every job in the United States, revealing the economic character of America’s metropolitan areas, which also helps to inform the local culture

Corruption Busting Is Her Game

South African activist is building 'international online community of thousands of corruption fighters'

Former SAF Businessman Gives Books, Love of Reading to Students

Steve Tsakaris now involved in nonprofit Read to Rise, which distributes books in Soweto, encourages lower-grade primary school students to read

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video In Cambodian Capital, Political Motives Seen Behind Canceled Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle reports from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs