News / Middle East

    Rights Groups: Syrian Troops Kill 55 People in Raids on Towns

    August 3 image from mobile video shows smoke rising from a building in the Al Hader area of Hama (third party image; content cannot be independently confirmed by Reuters)
    August 3 image from mobile video shows smoke rising from a building in the Al Hader area of Hama (third party image; content cannot be independently confirmed by Reuters)
    Elizabeth Arrott

    Syria's military has launched an offensive against the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, even as international pressure builds on the government to end its crackdown on a popular uprising. There has also been violence in Houleh in Homs province. Activists say at least 55 people have been killed in the unrest across Syria on Sunday. These casualty reports have not been confirmed because independent journalists are not allowed to go into the region.

    Deir el-Zour

    Tanks and troops moved into Deir el-Zour before dawn Sunday, and witnesses say gunfire and blasts can be heard across the city.

    Amateur video claiming to show the attack was posted on social media sites Sunday, although its authenticity could not be independently verified. Deir el-Zour has been at the forefront of the anti-government uprising, but until now had been largely spared the military crackdown.

    A spokesman for the Arab Commission for Human Rights, Haytham Manna, says communications to the city are disrupted but he has received the names of some of those killed. He says the government is also conducting operations in Houleh, in Homs province, and elsewhere.

    "We have six people killed because of this military attack," said Manna. "And at the same time, we have four people killed in Idlep and today [Sunday] we have more than ten people killed around the north and northeast regions in Syria. "

    Hama

    The assaults come one week after the military launched a similar offensive on Hama, another city with a strong protest movement. That attack began the day before Ramadan, the holy month, during which many protesters said they hoped they would see stepped up efforts to bring the government in Damascus to an end.

    Syrian state media said that local leaders in Deir el-Zour requested the military intervention to protect citizens. The government argues it's fighting armed gangs and extremists spurred on by foreign meddling, a narrative contradicted by witness accounts, amateur video reports, human rights groups and the U.N. Security Council.

    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)
    Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (file photo)

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan added his voice to the criticism of the crackdown, saying the patience of his government is running out.

    He said Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu will head to Damascus Tuesday, and warned that Turkey will take unspecified actions depending on the outcome of the talks. Syria's northern neighbor has become increasingly frustrated with its regional partner and has played host to thousands of refugees from the conflict.

    Arab reaction

    Arab nations are also speaking out. The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) has issued its first statement on the unrest, calling for an immediate end to the violence and for political reforms in Syria.

    The United States and others estimate about 2,000 people have been killed since the uprising began in March.

    The Syrian government has announced several reform measures, most recently free and fair parliamentary elections this year, promises dismissed by critics as hollow. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a phone call Saturday that for the measures to gain credibility, the government must stop the use of force and end mass arrests immediately.

    Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
    and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    US-Russia Tensions Complicate Syria War

    With a shared enemy and opposing allies, Russia and the US are working to avoid confrontation

    Video Re-opening Old Wounds in Beirut's Bullet-riddled Yellow House

    Built in neo-Ottoman style in 1920s, it is set to be re-opened in Sept. as ‘memory museum’ - bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity

    Cambodian-Americans Lobby for Human Rights Resolution

    Resolution condemns all forms of political violence in Cambodia, urges Cambodian government to end human rights violations, calls for respect of press freedom

    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.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora