News / Middle East

Syrian Troops Attack City Where Uprising Began

Syrian Troops Attack City Where Uprising Began
Syrian Troops Attack City Where Uprising Began

Syrian rights activists say government troops have attacked the southern city of Daraa, the place where an opposition uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule began last March.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says four people were killed there Thursday, including fighting between Syrian forces and rebel soldiers.

China said Thursday it is sending a senior diplomat to Syria for talks about the crisis.  Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Vice Foreign Minister Zhai Jun will be in Syria on Friday and Saturday, but could not say who will be involved in the talks.

"The specific timetable of the event is still being organized.  I want to send a message that China hopes to push forward a peaceful and appropriate resolution to the Syria crisis.  China is willing to continue playing a constructive mediation role in resolving the crisis," said Liu Weimin.

He added that China wants to press for a peaceful resolution.  The vice foreign minister met with a Syrian opposition delegation last week in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the U.N. General Assembly is expected to give broad support Thursday to a resolution accusing Syria of rights violations and calling on the government to stop its deadly crackdown on dissent.  The document circulated by Arab diplomats is non-binding.

Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution earlier this month, blocking the body from endorsing a Western- and Arab-backed plan for President Assad to step aside as a way of ending the crisis.

The vote comes a day after Mr. Assad ordered a constitutional referendum that he said would end nearly five decades of single-party rule.

The proposed charter, set for a February 26 vote, would dilute the ruling Ba'ath party's status as "the leader of the state and society."  State media said Wednesday the draft also permits a president to be elected to two seven-year terms, setting a limit for the first time in decades.

Mr. Assad's late father, Hafez al-Assad, ruled for 29 years before his death in 2000, when his son succeeded him. The Ba'ath party took power in 1963.

Russia welcomed the proposed referendum, but Syrian opposition groups quickly rejected it, saying the government was stalling for time and that the Syrian people would accept nothing less than Mr. Assad's ouster.  White House spokesman Jay Carney dismissed the referendum as "laughable," saying it "makes a mockery" of the Syrian uprising.

Rights groups say more than 6,000 people have been killed since pro-Assad forces began cracking down on anti-government protesters last year.  The United Nations stopped updating the death toll in January, saying it was too difficult to obtain information.

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

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid