News / Middle East

    Syrian Rebels Shun Geneva Peace Talks

    • Residents gather at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
    • Civilians and rescuers search under rubble at a site hit by what activists say was a Scud missile from forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Raqqa, Nov. 28, 2013.
    • A man walks along a damaged street in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 27, 2013.
    • A view shows damaged buildings along a deserted street in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
    • People carry a man on a stretcher after he was injured by shelling in the besieged area of Homs, Nov. 25, 2013.
    • Free Syrian Army fighters sit together as they rest in Deir al-Zor, Nov. 25, 2013.
    • Forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad carry their weapons and walk in Aleppo's village of Aziza, Nov. 25, 2013.
    • A Kurdish Security Forces vehicle is seen damaged from a suicide bombing in Qamishli, Nov. 25, 2013.
    • People carry the body of a civilian activist killed during what activists said was an ambush, during a funeral in eastern al-Ghouta, near Damascus, Nov. 24, 2013.
    Images from Syria
    The commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army says his group will not participate in a peace conference planned for January in Geneva and intends to pursue its fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad regardless.

    General Salim Idriss told Al Jazeera television Tuesday that "conditions are not suitable for running the Geneva 2 talks" and that the FSA "will not stop combat at all during the Geneva conference or after it."

    The country's main exiled opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, said it has not made a final decision on whether to attend the talks, while again insisting Mr. Assad should play no role in the country's political future.

    The United Nations set January 22 as the date for the Geneva conference with the stated goal of forging a transitional government to end the more than 2-year-old conflict that has killed well over 100,000 people and displaced millions more.

    Iran's foreign minister said Tuesday that, if invited, Iran will participate in the Geneva 2 conference without any preconditions.

    "We have said all along that if Iran is invited we will participate without any preconditions. But the point is for us in Iran, finding a resolution to the crisis in Syria constitutes a matter of national importance and it is a national priority for us. So, whether invited or not, we will continue to support a political process in Syria."

    Meanwhile, the Syrian government said it would push on with its war against "terrorism" as state media announced 15 people were killed and more than 30 wounded in a suicide attack at a bus station in a Damascus suburb.

    Syrian television said all fatalities were civilians but the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said six of the dead were soldiers and that two children were also killed in Soumariya, a major hub for transport in and out of the capital.

    Click to enlargeClick to enlarge
    x
    Click to enlarge
    Click to enlarge
    ​Earlier Tuesday, the World Health Organization said it confirmed two new cases of polio in Syria. An outbreak of 15 cases was found in northeastern Syria last month, prompting the largest-ever polio immunization campaign in the region.

    The U.N. health agency said the virus has now infected a child in rural Damascus and another in the northern city of Aleppo.

    The polio outbreak is the first in Syria since 1999. The WHO has warned of the high risk of the virus spreading because of large population movements in response to the country's ongoing crisis.

    The agency is working to vaccinate 20 million children in seven countries and territories in an operation it expects to continue for at least six to eight months.

    You May Like

    S. African Farmer Goes From 'Voice in the Wilderness' to Sought-After Expert

    Margarest Roberts has authored more than 40 books on subjects like organic farming, urban agriculture, herbs and ‘superfoods'

    Millennial Men Prefer Bucks Over Beauty

    U.S. men aged 18 to 34 say the finances of a potential significant other are more important than her looks

    Multimedia Lebanese Clown Troupe Marks Valentine's Day Amid Stink

    Activists resort to unusual approaches to raise public awareness of country’s ongoing trash crisis

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Mrs. Dorothy Burke from: UK
    November 26, 2013 9:35 PM
    Like these "peace talks" are really going to do anything, when it is the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT that openly funds and runs the FSA. How dumb do you think people are???
    In Response

    by: Margot Lumley from: Canada
    November 27, 2013 8:48 AM
    let me give the Arabs here a little advice... do not be like the Iranians who write under false names... its disgusting and undignified... you claim to be a Dr. from somewhere and you write with the logic of an Arab peasant... it just sounds despicable... don't be like the degenerate Iranians, please have some dignity...

    by: Dr. Kornlick from: UK
    November 26, 2013 6:43 PM
    But the CIA funds the FSA, so why should they attend some phony "meeting"?? The whole thing is a SHAM.

    by: Anonymous
    November 26, 2013 4:01 PM
    What you are witnessing in the photos are the damage and destruction by Bashar al Assad. Bashar has used his military planes, helicopters, tanks, and missiles to destroy many residential areas in Syria. He has pushed Syria backwards 30-40years. This is not what the Syrians want whatsoever. Only planes, helicopters, tanks, and missiles can deliver destruction of this magnitude. It is a disgrace to the Syrian Nation what bashar al assad has done. It is a crime. This is why so many Syrians do not want to deal with Bashar whatsoever, as most consider him a criminal. The crimes of bombarding civilian areas, murder, and genocide as well, and that's not even involving the gas he used.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    November 26, 2013 12:19 PM
    When two people are fighting, common sense calls for immediate cessation of strife because it involves loss of lives and injury. Postponing peace deal between Syrian government and rebels until January is a mark of irresponsibility and lack of commitment by those scheduling the talks. How many more lives will be lost and how much more injuries and damage to properties will be uncured? This is not acceptable at all. First it was postponement from one month to another. Now it is a shift for three months. Haba! Who is making this mistake? Someone says UN Humans Rights Commission, another says this, yet another says that. Human lives are wasted while the organizations concerned spend time making plans. Why will the rebels cease fire for the talks if there is no ceasefire for the planning? The FSA's precondition is an untenable one that should make the rest try to eliminate it for the talks to move forward. But in all sincerity, no well meaning individual or organization will continue planning to save lives while watching same lives being wasted daily. Because of lives involved in the daily fracas, let the organizations call for immediate cessation of hostilities, bring the factions together, decide what should be done to bring peace to the country and pursue it. The idea of scheduling peace for a future time is unrealistic and costly on human lives and property. If the factions are not going to be left to sort themselves out, then let the peace process be immediate. Put diplomatic and bureaucratic bottlenecks apart and save lives.

    by: Dorathea from: UK
    November 26, 2013 11:55 AM
    really...? no future...!!! i thought it was the birth of democracy... or as the Arabs have it "Dee Mook Raassy" - like some disgusting stench of Islamic spawn.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.