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

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs