Syrian Army Pounds Homs

Shops and homes are seen after they were destroyed by Syrian government shelling in Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria, March 20, 2012.
Shops and homes are seen after they were destroyed by Syrian government shelling in Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria, March 20, 2012.

Activists say Syrian forces resumed heavy shelling of the already battered city of Homs on Saturday, as international envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Russia to discuss efforts to mediate an end to the crisis in Syria.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least three people were killed in the Khaldiyeh district of Homs and nearby town of Qusair following shelling that began early Saturday.  Homs has seen some of the heaviest fighting in Syria's year-long uprising.

Clashes were also reported in Idlib province bordering Turkey, where the rights group says at least one person was killed.

Syria Peace Plan

The U.N. Security Council approved U.N.-Arab League envoy on Syria Kofi Annan's proposed peace plan that includes:

  • An immediate cease-fire and an end to all human rights violations
  • A two-hour per day halt in fighting for humanitarian aid delivery
  • Inclusive Syrian-led political talks to address "legitimate aspirations and concerns" of the Syrian people

Saturday's violence comes as joint U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Moscow in an effort to convince Russia to support international calls for a cease-fire and open political dialogue in Syria.  Russia and China have repeatedly blocked Security Council action against Syria since the deadly crackdowns on protests erupted. However, the two nations did support a Security Council resolution in recent days endorsing Annan's six-point plan for peace.

Annan will meet with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Sunday, and will then travel to Beijing on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with Chinese officials for similar discussions.

On Friday, the European Union imposed a travel ban and asset freeze on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's British-born wife and several other members of his family and administration.

The sanctions on Mrs. Assad came after leaked emails showed she allegedly went on lavish shopping sprees while Syria descended into violence. British officials say the EU travel ban can not stop the Syrian first lady from traveling to Britain if she has retained her citizenship.

Meanwhile, the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva sharply condemned Syria's "escalating violence", calling for an extension of a probe into the Syrian government's alleged abuses in the year of unrest.  The 47-member body voted 41 to three in favor of an EU-sponsored resolution backed by the United States and Arab countries. China, Russia and Cuba voted against the measure.

In Washington, the Obama administration said it will allow Syrians in the country to remain, even after their visas have expired, and not deport those who are in the U.S. illegally.

Reported deaths in violence across Syria

The United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Assad government's violent crackdown on the revolt, which began with peaceful protests and became increasingly militarized as army defectors attacked pro-Assad troops who assaulted civilians.

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.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
March 25, 2012 7:11 AM

by: C Ritchie
March 24, 2012 11:48 PM
Assad is a monster. So was Saddam Hussein. And Gaddafi, The world is becoming increasingly intolerant of these vicious, selfish regimes. May their dreadful leaders all suffer a similar fate. No one, apart from their rabid supporters, wants this type of person to have power.

by: Jacki
March 24, 2012 11:26 PM
The Assad family are more trusted that the mob trying to overthrow him. They are a bunch of extremists, whom the majority of Syrians do NOT support. Syrians living in Syria actually support President Assad, and the fact remains that the "New Syrian Army" has very little backing with syrians, as syrians know they are EXtremists

by: jah son
March 24, 2012 6:47 AM
there will always be voilence in the middle east untill all women are free and all arab/moslem countries adapt a democracy instead of one man autrocratic rule, stop allowing the rulers to have all the wealth and give it to their sons and daughters and have large harems and lusch villas while the people around them starve and bowdown to worship muhamid um-teen times a day like robots.

by: Arash Wafa
March 24, 2012 6:06 AM
I appreciate the government of Syria to attack Rebel
because these Rebels are a pillars to USA

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs