News

Syrian Violence Continues as Monitoring Chief Heads to Country

Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Kafranbel, near Idlib, April 27, 2012.
Demonstrators protest against Syria's President Bashar Al-Assad in Kafranbel, near Idlib, April 27, 2012.

The head of the United Nations observer team in Syria, Norwegian Gen. Robert Mood is due in the capital Damascus Saturday, to give a fresh impetus to a mission which critics claim is fraying amid persistent violations of an over two-week old ceasefire.  There have been reports of more clashes between government and opposition forces in several areas of the country.

A U.N. observer team visited the flashpoint city of Homs Saturday afternoon, just as the Norwegian general due to take charge of the mission headed to Damascus. Major General Robert Mood is a veteran of numerous U.N. peacekeeping missions.

Reported deaths in violence across Syria

Just over a dozen U.N. observers are now on the ground in Syria, despite efforts to boost the strength of the team to the 300-strong force approved by the U.N. Security Council.   But Colonel Amed Himiche, a member of the observer team,  said preparations are now complete in Syria for the arrival of the full 300 member observer team.

Clashes between government troops and rebel soldiers took place near the presidential palace in Latakia and the outskirts of Damascus, amid reports of fresh desertions to the rebel side.  An activist told the French Press Agency that soldiers from a military base near the palace “deserted with their weapons.”

Syria's official state news agency SANA reported that a clash near Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo left three soldiers and two rebels dead. The agency also said that a loyalist military unit thwarted an attempt by armed rebels “trying to infiltrate from the sea” in Latakia.

In nearby Lebanon, the country's navy intercepted a ship off the coast that was reportedly carrying weapons from Libya to the Syrian rebels. The Liberian-flagged vessel was due to dock in the northern Lebanese port of Tripoli.

The Syrian government has complained repeatedly that weapons were being smuggled from neighboring countries to help the rebels. The rebels, in turn, complain that Syrian allies Iran and Russia have been arming the government.

Scholar Joshua Landis, who heads the Middle East program at the University of Oklahoma, argues that both the government and the opposition are using the brokered ceasefire to rearm and regroup:

“The Annan peace plan is being used by both sides to regroup, rearm and reorganize. The Syrian regime is trying to convince the world that it's fighting terrorism and Islamists and the opposition needs a breather to get armed, organized, [and] try to knit together some communications network that will help them bring together their scattered groups and militias and recover from this offensive waged against them by the regime in the last few months," he said.

Landis was pessimistic about long term chances that the peace plan for Syria would work. "Both sides,” he said,”are raising the ante. Larger weapons are being used and we're seeing more carbombs, assassinations, and attacks on vehicles.” He also warned that a series of “tit-for-tat sectarian revenge attacks” is threatening a further “downward spiral.”

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
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: AbuAbdAllah_Muhammad_IbnMusa
April 30, 2012 5:17 PM
Sami, you and your Palestinian friends need to learn how to minimise the damage by knowing when you have lost a war and by not prolonging it. We told you from the beginning you don't have the right to "protest" anything, and nobody is stupid enough to believe you are peaceful at all, so you know what is waiting for all of you if you fail to obey. No more talking, you will be exterminated because you don't even understand the simplest of instructions. You are useless to Syria.

by: Sami Haddad
April 29, 2012 9:45 AM
Will the world stop playing these silly games and take the situation in Syria seriously? Bashar Assad and his supporters have no intention of stop their killing of Syrians until only there are Alawites left in Syria. Once the Sunni Muslims are exterminated, Assad will wipe out the Syrian Christians. Either the world must eliminate Assad and his supporters from power in Syria or watch the next genocide of the 21st century.

by: Michael
April 29, 2012 6:05 AM
Syria qualifies for what the late Pope Pius XII called the 'sea of calamity.' By the way, no one is mentioning what the Vatican is doing during this troubled situation. Syria, after all, figures large in its Christian history

by: MARTELI
April 29, 2012 4:23 AM
Why China and Russia doesn't go help those trouble Arabs or extrimist muslims they are always have war or having trouble.
America is not a security guard around the world.

by: Natasha
April 29, 2012 12:07 AM
What some usually call "Pro-Democracy Forces in Syria" are really various groups of terrorists. Mc Cain is a terrorist supporter, no more, no less.

by: lishan
April 28, 2012 11:04 PM
the usa and its follows should go out of arab world..

by: Loeber
April 28, 2012 8:27 PM
the cowards we have to leaders in the West .. 387 days of murder and maiming of civilian demonstrator who protest and want to end 40 years of tyranny .. it is embarrassing and shameful to watch these grown men leaders of nations and military men cowering before the tyrants in China, Damascus and the Kremlin .. they have to watch while 20,000 or hundreds of thousands are murdered .. in Bosnia, Rwanda, Cambodia, Liberia .. cowards ..

by: Paul
April 28, 2012 5:15 AM
Considering that the Arab world considers Israel's interception of ships bound for Gaza as piracy, will the Lebanese turn themselves in to the international authorities?

Answer: of course not.. Arab nations are permitted what others are not.

by: oghenekome
April 28, 2012 4:48 AM
UN secretary General ban ki moooon is a betrayal of the syria citizens, because according to his statement he is supporting the western countries/ rebels to destablise Syria, that he must stop.

by: Anthony Fernandes
April 28, 2012 4:00 AM
It is not understandable why the western media is"siding" with the rebels, knowing fully well that the USA wants to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad by hook or by crook, bwefore the US Presidential elections. That has always been the US's ploy.Sometimes ethnic-cleansing,sometimes wmd, sometimes regime change .With countries like India-arse-cleansing. There are no buyers for US supremacy in Asia now. .
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs