News / Middle East

Syrian Army Advances on Strategic Town Near Lebanon

A tank belonging to the forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen at Al-Sahl town, about 2km (a mile) to Yabroud's north, after the soldiers took control of it from the rebel fighters, March 3, 2014.
A tank belonging to the forces of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad is seen at Al-Sahl town, about 2km (a mile) to Yabroud's north, after the soldiers took control of it from the rebel fighters, March 3, 2014.
VOA News
Syrian government forces have solidified their grasp on the last major town held by Sunni Muslim rebels near the Lebanese border.

Government troops, backed by Lebanese Shi'ite Hezbollah fighters and local paramilitaries, bombarded areas around Yabroud on Tuesday.

A successful push into the town would help President Bashar al-Assad's military seal a link between Mediterranean coastal bastions of his minority Alawite sect and the capital, Damascus.

Syrian forces have been on the offensive in the mountainous Qalamoun region where Yabroud is located since December, attempting to sever rebel supply routes from Lebanon.

Thousands of people fled the town, about 60 kilometers north of Damascus, after it was bombed and shelled last month ahead of the assault.

Hezbollah leaders in Lebanon would like to have the region across the border in Syria cleared of Sunni Muslim rebels trying to topple Assad's government.

The Shi'ite militant group claims several cars used in recent bombings in Beirut were rigged in Yabroud and smuggled into Lebanon for attacks on Hezbollah strongholds.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels fighting in Yabroud mostly belong to hard-line Islamist groups, including the al-Qaida linked Nusra Front and the breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
  • This SANA photo shows supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attend a rally in Salkha, Sweida, southern Syria, March 4, 2014.
  • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad stand near a road in Al-Sahl town, north of Yabroud, March 4, 2014.
  • This SANA photo shows a Syrian government in Al-Sahl town, north of Yabroud, Syria, March 3, 2014.
  • A general view of damaged buildings are seen in the besieged area of Homs, March 3, 2014.
  • This picture provided by the anti-government activist group Coordination Committee In Kfar Takharim shows a Syrian man running as flames rise from buildings which were attacked by a Syrian air strike in Kfar Takharim, March 1, 2014.

Also Tuesday, the Dutch diplomat leading the international mission to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons program said nearly one-third of the country's chemical weapons stockpile has been removed or destroyed.

Sigrid Kaag, head of the joint U.N.-Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons Mission, said the pace of removing chemical agents is accelerating and an end-of-June deadline for the program's total destruction is achievable.

The OPCW cited the Syrian government as saying it had now handed over six consignments of declared toxic agents as part of a Russian-U.S. deal struck last year.

The group said it has confirmed two more shipments are headed for the northern Syrian port of Latakia where they will be transferred to a U.S. ship fitted with special equipment that will destroy hundreds of tons of toxins.

The OPCW said Syria has submitted a revised plan to remove all chemicals from its territory by the end of April.

Damascus missed deadlines in December and February to hand over chemicals, and diplomats are concerned it will also miss a final, politically significant deadline of mid-2014 to completely relinquish its chemical stockpile.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

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