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, "Go, we want to go back to our schools".
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 Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the US are seeing gas prices dip below $3 a gallon More

Afghan Women's Soccer Team Building for the Future

A four-team female league was recently set up in Kabul; It will help identify players for the national team More

Video Koreas on Edge Amid Live-fire Drills

Pyongyang threatens nuclear test as joint US, S. Korean exercises show forces’ capabilities 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid