News

Syrian Government Attacks Continue as Diplomacy Stalls

This image made from amateur video purports to show Syrian protesters running in Daraa, Syria, March 12, 2012.
This image made from amateur video purports to show Syrian protesters running in Daraa, Syria, March 12, 2012.

With international diplomacy stalled, forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad are attacking the southern flashpoint city of Daraa Wednesday. The forces appear to be gaining against rebel fighters. Meanwhile, three prominent members of an opposition council submitted their resignations, further fragmenting the activists.

Opposition video shows Syrian government tanks and soldiers on the outskirts of Daraa, accompanied by sporadic shelling and intermittent gunfire.

Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti
Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti

Syrian government forces captured the large northern city of Idlib, near the Turkish border, several days ago. Opposition video released Wednesday shows rebel soldiers making their last stand inside the town. Surrounding towns remain in rebel hands.

The fighting comes as the United Nations-Arab League special envoy for Syria says Assad's government has responded to his overtures on ending the crisis but questions remain.

A spokesman for envoy Kofi Annan said the former U.N. chief is seeking clarification of Syria's answers to proposals he made in Damascus over the weekend. The spokesman said "time is of the essence," considering the "grave and tragic situation" in Syria. Annan is scheduled to brief the U.N. Security Council on Friday.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Damascus had responded positively to Annan's proposals. In an email to VOA, Jihad Makdissi said the Syrian government sees a political solution as "the best way to overcome the painful crisis" because it's in Syria's best interests.   

Amid diplomatic efforts to end the crackdown, an international rights group says Syrians detained during the uprising have been subjected to torture.

Amnesty International says the treatment of detainees in Syria amounts to crimes against humanity. The group issued a report Wednesday based on interviews with 25 Syrians who said they endured torture at detention centers before they fled to neighboring Jordan.

Meanwhile, a divide emerged in the opposition Syrian National Council [SNC] with three leading members, Haitham al-Maleh, Kamal al-Labwani and Catherine Altalli, announcing they had quit to form a separate group. Maleh and Labwani have been critical of the SNC for its unwillingness to arm the rebel Free Syrian Army, made up mostly of former Syrian army members.   

Hilal Khashan, who teaches political science at the American University of Beirut, cautions that rebel setbacks and a fragmenting opposition may be temporary. He believes that recent military successes of Syrian government forces will only embolden the opposition movement.

"When you have a well-equipped army with armor and artillery against ragtag troops of the Free Syrian Army, the outcome of a direct confrontation in a classical battle is clear. Taking over cities does not end the uprising. Actually, it adds a new momentum to it. Remember, last year in April, the army overran Daraa. That did not quiet the uprising, but allowed it to spread elsewhere,” said Khashan.

Khashan said the Syrian army has continued assaults in the mountain town of Zebadani because rebels keep returning.

 

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
     
by: Aliyari
March 28, 2012 8:52 PM
Assad is hero he is the king of Arabs
the other Arab leaders are salves to America
what American say they listen.
Long life Assad death to those who reject Assad Rule.

by: Hassan
March 14, 2012 5:58 PM
Here is a rendezvous with reality. Assad has committed crimes against humanity. The Assad dictatorship has tortured children, destroyed houses of worship, raped women, summarily executed innocent men, and is in the process of conducting ethnic cleansing in Syria, theft of state assets, burning living families to death and other general acts of terrorism on a scale unequaled anywhere in the Mediterranean region. Do you expect these criminals to expect to negotiate with honor? Is the world crazy?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailandi
X
May 05, 2015 5:50 PM
Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Mass Grave Exposes Entrenched Trafficking in Thailand

Police in southern Thailand have found two more camps believed to have held human trafficking victims -- one containing a buried skeleton. This comes just days after officials announced arrests in connection with the grisly discovery of 26 bodies in a mass grave at another location. Officials suspect as many as 400 mostly ethnic Rohingya from Myanmar were being held for ransom at the remote camp near the Malaysian border. Steve Sandford reports on developments in the case.
Video

Video Russia's 'Victory Day' Glory Over Nazis Overshadowed by Ukraine

ussia is preparing to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, known since the Soviet era as “The Great Patriotic War,” with a massive parade on May 9th of military hardware and millions of medals handed out to veterans or their relatives. But critics say the Soviet-style display of power and nationalism overshadows tragic scars during and after the war that still influence politics and foreign policy, especially in the current Ukraine crisis.
Video

Video WWII Anniversary Brings Old Friends and New Worries

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II has special significance, with Russia becoming more assertive in Ukraine and sending its military planes to the edges of western countries’ airspace. Changes in the geostrategic balance and the transatlantic relationship are felt across the continent, not least in German towns that have hosted U.S. military bases since the defeat of Nazi Germany. VOA’s Al Pessin visited Schweinfurt, Germany, where a large base closed last year.
Video

Video Abraham Lincoln Funeral Re-created for 150th Civil War Anniversary

Over the last four years, commemorative events to mark the 150th anniversary of the U.S. Civil War have brought thousands of visitors to battlefields and historic landmarks across the country. As VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, the final event in the Civil War's sesquicentennial honors the final journey home of the slain American President, Abraham Lincoln.
Video

Video Campaign Raises Money to 'Uncuff' Journalists

Beginning Sunday – World Press Freedom Day – the Committee to Protect Journalists, a private U.S. group, is launching a campaign to bring attention to their plight and encourage efforts to free them. Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Volunteers Pull Together to Aid Baltimore Riot Victims

Calm has returned to Baltimore, Maryland, after authorities lifted an overnight curfew imposed almost a week ago to stem the rioting that followed the funeral of Freddie Gray - the 25-year-old black man who died of spinal injuries suffered while in police custody. Six police officers, three of them African-American, have been charged in connection with his death. Baltimore is now trying to get back to normal, in part with the help of volunteers who responded to calls to help those in the city'
Video

Video From Aleppo To Berlin: Band of Brothers Escapes Civil War

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled the civil war in their country and journeyed to Europe by boat across the Mediterranean. It is a terrifying ordeal with dangers at every turn. A group of Syrian brothers and their friends describe their ordeal as they try to reach Germany. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports. ...
Video

Video Rural Nepal Suffers Brunt of Quake’s Devastation

Nepal is still coming to grips with the full extent of the devastation and misery caused by last Saturday’s magnitude 7.8 earthquake. Some of the hardest-hit communities have been cut off by landslides making it difficult to assess the precise toll. A VOA News crew has been among the first to reach a few of the smaller, remote communities. Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Sindhupolchak district, east of Kathmandu, which suffered greatly in Nepal’s worst quake in more than 80 years.
Video

Video Obama Praises Work of 3 Immigrant Journalists

President Barack Obama met with three immigrant journalists at the White House Friday to praise them for their work ahead of World Press Freedom Day, May 3. In attendance: Dieu Cay (his pen name) a blogger from Vietnam recently released from prison; Lily Mengesha from Ethiopia who was harassed and detained for exposing the marrying off of young girls as child brides, and Fatima Tlisova, an ethnic Circassian from the North Caucasus region of Russia, who works for VOA's Russian Service.
Video

Video Middle East Atheist Channel Defies Taboo

In Egypt, a deeply religious country in a deeply religious region, atheism is not only taboo, it is dangerous. It is sometimes even criminal to publicly declare nonbelief. Despite the danger, one group of activists is pushing back with a new online channel that defends the right not to believe. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Nepal Quake Survivors Tell Their Stories

Against all hope, rescuers have found a few more survivors of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal last Saturday. Mountain climbers and hikers trapped in remote places also have been airlifted to safety, and aid is finally reaching people in the areas closest to the quake's epicenter. Survivors and rescuers are now recounting their experience. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Lessons for Germany, Europe Remain on Anniversary of WWII's End

The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II will be marked May 8-9 in all European countries except Germany, which lost the war. How is the war viewed there, and what impact is it still having? From Berlin, VOA’s Al Pessin reports.
Video

Video Nepal Town Destroyed By Quake Counts Itself Lucky

Foreign search teams on Wednesday began reaching some of the communities outside Kathmandu that suffered worse damage than Nepal’s capital from last Saturday’s massive earthquake. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman is in Sankhu - a town of about 10,000 people - where there is relief the death toll is not higher despite widespread destruction.
Video

Video Somali Hotel Chain Owner Strives to Make a Difference

Many in the Somali diaspora are returning home to make a new life despite the continuing risks. Since 2011 when a military campaign against Al-Shabab militants began making progress, members of the diaspora community have come back to open hospitals, schools, hotels, restaurants and other businesses. Abdulaziz Billow in Mogadishu profiles the owner of a chain of hotels and restaurants who is helping to bring change to the once-deadly Somali capital.
Video

Video Child Migrants Cross Mediterranean Alone, Face Unknown Future

Among the thousands of migrants making the deadly journey by boat to Europe, there are unaccompanied girls and boys. Some have been sent by relatives to earn money; others are orphaned or fleeing war. From a shelter for young migrants in the Sicilian town of Caltagirone, VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.

VOA Blogs