News / Middle East

Syrian Opposition in Key Qatar Meeting to Unify Ranks

Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
x
Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Deraa November 4, 2012.
VOA News

Syria's fractured opposition factions began key talks aimed at forming a united front to gain international recognition and bolster their chances to oust President Bashar al-Assad.

The first four days of meetings in the Qatari capital, Doha, are focused on transforming the Syrian National Council, the largest opposition group outside Syria, into a representative government-in-exile.  SNC leaders said the group is expected to expand from about 200 members to 400.

A separate meeting of the wider opposition movement in Doha aims to form a united coalition that includes rebel fighters and others inside Syria.

Influential opposition figure Riad Seif has proposed a structure that blends the rebel Free Syrian Army, regional military councils and other insurgent units alongside civilian bodies and prominent opposition figures.

A Western diplomat said Seif's initiative is "supported by the United States, Britain, France and possibly by some Arab countries, Qatar and Turkey."  

The exile-dominated SNC would receive only 15 seats of about 50 in Seif's proposed new united assembly.  SNC chief Abdelbaset Sieda said his group would demand a 40 percent share of any new leadership body.

Meanwhile, in Syria, state television said a car bomb near a major hotel in the capital, Damascus, wounded 11 civilians.  The Syrian conflict is entering its 20th month and has caused the deaths of an estimated 36,000 people.

Also Sunday, activists said rebels captured one of the country's major oilfields in eastern Deir Ezzor province, following three days of fierce fighting with government troops protecting the facility.  The al-Ward oilfield is near the border with Iraq.

Oil was a major source of revenue for Mr. Assad's government before the European Union and the United States imposed an embargo on Syria's crude exports last year to punish the country's leadership for brutally cracking down on protesters early on in the uprising.

Activists also said rebels shot down a fighter jet near the oil field.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande went to Beirut for talks with his Lebanese counterpart, Michel Suleiman, to show support for the country amid ongoing violence in neighboring Syria.

That violence has spilled into Lebanon and has been growing worse in recent months.  Two weeks ago, a Beirut car bombing killed a top Lebanese intelligence official.  Lebanon's opposition blames Syria for the attack and wants Lebanon's prime minister to resign, accusing his government of complicity with Damascus.

You May Like

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs