News / Middle East

Syrian Fighting Intensifies, Rebels Expect Weapons

In this Sunday, July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs.
In this Sunday, July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Syrian government troops heavily shelled key districts in the strategic city of Homs Monday, battling opposition forces for a 10th straight day in an apparent attempt to divide the rebel-held north and forge a safe zone between the capital and the Mediterranean coast.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Bab Hood and al-Safsafa districts were hit with heavy artillery, mortar bombs and tank fire. It did not give casualty figures, which are hard to confirm due to media and security restrictions.

Also Monday, the newly elected head of the opposition Syrian National Coalition, Ahmad Jarba, told Reuters news agency he expects advanced weapons supplied by Saudi Arabia to reach rebel fighters soon, strengthening their military position.

Jarba, who has close links to Saudi Arabia, said the opposition would not go to a proposed peace conference in Geneva sponsored by the United States and Russia unless its military fortunes improve.

Russian foreign ministry officials said Jarba's comments raise questions about his dedication to a political solution for the conflict and urged the group to attend the hoped-for peace conference.

Homs is located at a strategic crossroads linking Damascus with army bases in coastal regions controlled by President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has dominated majority Sunni Syria for decades.

A Syrian government official said the army had taken control of the city's contested Khaldiyeh district. Activists denied the claim but said Homs was seeing the fiercest fighting since the uprising against President Assad began in March 2011.

Video uploaded by activist groups in Homs showed massive destruction in areas around the city's 13th-century Khalid Ibn Al-Walid mosque along with heavy shelling uninterrupted for minutes at a time.

In Damascus, Syria's ruling Baath party announced Monday it had replaced its top leadership team, including Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa. He remains vice president despite his removal from the party leadership.

Syria's state-run television said the new Baath party command, which is the party's top decision-making body, was chosen during a meeting of the party's central committee.

Assad remains the party's secretary-general. Syria's Baath party has ruled the country since 1963.

You May Like

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Open Source Seeds Hit the Market, Raise Awareness

First open source seeds include 29 new varieties of broccoli, celery, kale, quinoa and other vegetables and grains More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid