News / Middle East

Thousands Rally in Syria as Arab League Chief Warns of Civil War

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Zabadani, near Damascus January 13, 2012. The placard reads,
Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Zabadani, near Damascus January 13, 2012. The placard reads, "Go, we want to go back to our schools".

The chief of the Arab League warned Friday that Syria may be heading towards a civil war as thousands of Syrians took to the streets in support of an armed rebel group.

Arab League head Nabil Elaraby commented in interviews with The Associated Press and an Egyptian TV station while anti-government protesters voiced support for the Free Syrian Army, composed mainly of former soldiers.

Activists say 20,000 gathered in the town of Ariha in the northwest Idlib province. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says soldiers opened fire on protesters in the region, killing at least one person.

The 10-month crackdown on anti-government protests has turned more violent in recent months as defecting soldiers have taken up arms against the government.

Amateur video from Syria

Amateur video released Friday shows an armored personnel carrier in flames after it reportedly was attacked by members of the Free Syrian Army. The content of the video posted on YouTube can not be independently verified.

Elaraby spoke after at least 11 members of the Arab League observer mission were injured by pro-Assad supporters earlier this week. Meanwhile, one observer quit the monitoring team, calling it a "farce," and activists told VOA that 11 members are expected to quit the mission soon.

Foreign observers have been operating in Syria since December 26 to check President Bashar al-Assad's compliance with an Arab League plan to end his violent suppression of the uprising that began last year.

The United Nations and the United States say killings of protesters by Syrian security forces have intensified since the monitoring mission began. But Elaraby denied the charge Friday in an interview with the Egyptian Al-Hayat television channel.

Meanwhile, Turkey's foreign minister said a Russian ship carrying "dangerous cargo" has arrived in Syria, after being temporarily held in Cyprus. Cypriot media reported on Wednesday that authorities had intercepted a vessel carrying ammunition from St. Petersburg in Russia to Syria during a fuel stop. Media reports said the ship was carrying up to 60 tons of ammunition and explosives.

The United States said on Friday that is had raised concerns with Russia and Cyprus about the issue. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland repeated U.S. calls for all countries who continue to trade and supply weapons with Syria to stop.

The United Nations estimates at least 5,000 people have been killed in the uprising, many of them peaceful protesters attacked by Syrian security forces. Others have been killed in fighting between the Syrian military and the army defectors who have joined the rebellion in recent months.

Earlier this week, the first Western journalist was killed in Syria during a government-organized trip to Homs. Paris prosecutors said Friday that a preliminary investigation has been launched into the death of the France-2 Television reporter. Damascus also has said it will investigate the death.

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

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs