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 Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid