World News

    Syrian Opposition Figure Offers Transition Plan

    A prominent Syrian opposition figure has proposed a transition plan for the war-torn country, requiring President Bashar al-Assad to hand power to a senior aide and leave the country with 500 supporters.

    The outgoing head of the main opposition Syrian National Coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, published the plan on his Facebook page on Thursday as he met with other coalition members in the Turkish city of Istanbul.

    The SNC was considering whether to support a U.S.-Russian initiative calling for the Syrian opposition and government to attend a peace conference next month to resolve their two-year conflict.



    Khatib's plan would give Mr. Assad 20 days to accept its terms and another month to dissolve parliament and transfer all of his powers to Syrian Vice President Faruq al-Shara or Prime Minister Wael al-Halki.

    One of them would then lead an interim government for 100 days, during which the Syrian military would have to be restructured. A Syrian transitional government formed with international guarantees would then take over.

    The proposal also calls for the Syrian government to release all political prisoners. It indicates a willingness by some Syrian opposition figures to work with government officials deemed not to have played a direct role in Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on dissent.

    It is not clear whether the Sunni cleric's plan will be formally endorsed by the opposition coalition. He resigned as SNC chief in March in frustration at the lack of international support for the Syrian opposition.

    The Syrian government had no immediate reaction to Khatib's plan. But, Mr. Assad has vowed to remain in the presidential post that he inherited from his late father in 2000. He also has expressed a determination to run for re-election next year.

    Another SNC member Louay Safi said the coalition needs more assurances from world powers about the outcome of the proposed conference before it will agree to attend.



    "We have a lot of unknowns about the Geneva conference. I mean, we are for any conference that helps transition the situation into an elective government away from the dictatorship, but that will be our condition -- we are not going to accept any negotiations that do not indicate that Assad is going to be out."



    Eleven Western and Arab nations who support the SNC and call themselves the "Friends of Syria" met in Amman, Jordan on Wednesday to discuss the proposed peace conference.

    In a joint statement, they stressed the need for a political solution in Syria, with a transitional government that would not include Mr. Assad, members of his government or associates with "blood on their hands."

    Russia has called for Iran to be included in the conference. Both nations are longtime allies of Mr. Assad.

    But, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry appeared to object to Iran's involvement in the process.

    Speaking at an Amman news conference this week, he accused Tehran of perpetuating what he called Mr. Assad's "campaign of terror" by sending personnel to help thousands of Lebanese Hezbollah militants to fight alongside Syrian troops.

    In a statement, the Friends of Syria denounced the involvement of foreign fighters in the Syrian conflict, calling it a growing threat to regional stability.

    Lebanese security officials said Thursday that fighting between supporters of rival sides in the Syrian conflict continued overnight in the northern city of Tripoli, with the latest battles killing at least five people.

    Street fighting has erupted in Tripoli repeatedly during the Syrian crisis, which has enflamed tensions between the city's Sunnis, who largely support Syrian Sunni rebels, and Alawites who mostly back Syrian President Assad -- a fellow Alawite.

    Lebanese officials said Tripoli's violence has killed at least 16 people since Sunday.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora