News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Turn to Air Power as Insurgency Gains

Syrian Forces Turn to Air Power as Insurgency Gains Groundi
|| 0:00:00
X
September 06, 2012 4:32 PM
Syrian government forces are coming in for fierce international criticism as they turn increasingly to air power to counter rebel strength on the ground. And as VOA's Peter Heinlein reports both sides are using ever more brutal tactics, pushing casualty levels to new highs.
Peter Heinlein
Syrian government forces are coming in for fierce international criticism as they turn increasingly to air power to counter rebel strength on the ground. And both sides are using ever more brutal tactics, pushing casualty levels to new highs.

Nearly a quarter of a million Syrians have fled their homes in recent weeks, as government bombs and mortar shells have begun targeting heavily-populated areas.

Last week, amateur video on a social website, which could not be independently verified, purported to show the aftermath of attacks on the town of Deraa. This week, government raids struck Syria's largest city, Aleppo.

Burying the victims is challenging authorities, as estimates of the death toll top 4,000 for August, the worst month since an opposition uprising began in March of last year.

As fighting rages, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the General Assembly civilians are increasingly the victims, as the conflict takes what he called "a particularly brutal turn."

"Syrian government forces continue indiscriminate shelling of densely populate areas with heavy weapons, tanks and air assets," said Ban.  "Opposition groups have stepped up military activity. Civilians bear the brunt of the violence."

Many experts see the increase in civilian casualties as a sign that the government of President Bashar al-Assad is growing desperate.

The director of Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, David Schenker, says the bombing campaign is a last-ditch attempt to undermine morale and end the revolt.

"It's a scorched earth policy," said Schenker.  "Bashar Assad, the regime, understands that it cannot negotiate its way out of the problem."

Schenker says the tactical switch to targeting civilian areas will complicate efforts to rebuild Syria's religiously-diverse society.

"This is going to be a shattered society," said Schenker.  "It's a society that had a history of religious coexistence, 74% Sunni population getting along with the Druze, the Christians, the Alawites. That's going to be really hard to put this ethnic mosaic back together.

Syria's top government spokesman maintained a hard line this week. Spokesman Oman al-Zoubi told a news conference the armed opposition is "unfit for negotiations."  He described them as "foreign agents."

Al-Zoubi rejected suggestions that the government's bombing campaign is forcing civilians to flee, and said they are welcome back anytime.

"The Syrian government did not and will never kick anyone out," said Al-Zoubi.  "The government will never accept that anyone has to live outside the country."

The head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) visited Damascus this week to secure permission to monitor the conflict.  President Assad was reported to have told him the ICRC could operate in Syria as long as it remained neutral.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid