News / Middle East

Activists: Syrian Troops Kill 52 Civilians in Saturday Attacks

Syrian residents carry the bodies of people whom protesters say were killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during their funeral in Dara'a June 9, 2012.
Syrian residents carry the bodies of people whom protesters say were killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, during their funeral in Dara'a June 9, 2012.
VOA News
Syrian activists say government forces killed at least 52 civilians in attacks across the country Saturday, as Syria's main exiled opposition group met in neighboring Turkey to pick a new leader to unify the movement.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Saturday's highest death toll was in Daraa, with 20 people killed in a pre-dawn bombardment of the southern town where a pro-democracy uprising began 15 months ago.

Activists said more people were killed in government shelling of the rebellious central city of Homs, and early-morning gunbattles between government and rebel forces in central Damascus. The casualties could not be independently confirmed.

Members of the opposition Syrian National Council who were meeting in Istanbul said the front-runner to become their new leader is Abdulbaset Sieda, a Kurdish human rights activist. The exiled group was expected to meet again Sunday to try to name the successor to Burhan Ghalioun, who agreed step down last month under criticism of his leadership.

The SNC has been plagued by infighting since it was formed last year to try to present a credible alternative to the autocratic government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Ghalioun's critics complained that he gave Syrian Islamists too powerful a role in the SNC and did not do enough to coordinate with committees of youth activists organizing protests inside Syria.

Speaking at Saturday's meeting, Sieda said the SNC should continue to reform itself to better connect with the domestic opposition and serve as the "real representative" of the Syrian people.

In other developments, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Saturday that Moscow would support Mr. Assad's departure from power if the Syrian people agree on it. Russia has been a longtime ally of Mr. Assad and has repeatedly blocked Western and Arab efforts to impose U.N. sanctions on his government.

It was not clear if Lavrov's comment marked a softening of Russia's support for the Assad government. Speaking at a Moscow news conference, Lavrov also reiterated Russia's rejection of any foreign military intervention in the Syrian conflict. He also repeated his call for nations supporting and opposing Mr. Assad to join an international conference to salvage a Syria peace plan drafted by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

You May Like

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid