News

    Syrian Troops Assault Rebel Strongholds, New Diplomatic Push Starts

    Black smoke rises from buildings in Homs, Syria, March 27, 2012 (AP is unable to independently verify the authenticity, content, location or date of this handout photo.)
    Black smoke rises from buildings in Homs, Syria, March 27, 2012 (AP is unable to independently verify the authenticity, content, location or date of this handout photo.)

    Syrian rights activists say government forces have assaulted several rebel strongholds, triggering battles that killed 40 people as Arab nations began a new diplomatic effort to end Syria's year-long conflict.

    Activists said Wednesday that government troops battled opposition forces in the towns of Rastan in central Syria and Daraa in the south.

    The New York Times, citing the Local Coordination Committees activist group, reported that troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad stormed the northern town of Saraqeb, leaving 40 people dead and the streets littered with unidentified corpses and wounded citizens after four days of attacks. The group appealed to the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations to "treat the injured and bury the martyrs."

    Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan

    • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
    • A U.N.-supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
    • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
    • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily-detained people.
    • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
    • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

    The violence continued a day after international envoy Kofi Annan said Syria had accepted his peace plan for a cease-fire and a dialogue between government and rebel forces. He had urged the Syrian government to implement the plan immediately.

    Arab League foreign ministers expressed support for the Annan peace initiative at a meeting in Baghdad, where leaders of the regional bloc were expected to attend a summit on Thursday.

    A draft resolution prepared by the ministers for the summit's approval calls on the Assad government to stop violent attacks on the opposition and allow peaceful protests.

    Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Syria's implementation of Mr. Annan's plan is "more important than acceptance" and represents a "last chance" for the country to resolve its crisis peacefully.

    A Syrian official said his government will reject any resolution passed by the Arab League on Syria. The bloc suspended Syria's membership last year to punish Damascus for continuing a deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising.



    Western diplomats and Syrian opposition figures reacted skeptically to Syria's acceptance of the Annan proposals. Opposition members accused Mr. Assad of trying to stall for time as his troops make a renewed push to crush dissent.

    In Washington, senior U.S. senators filed a resolution Wednesday condemning Syria's bloody violence and urging the arming of anti-government rebels. Senator John McCain presented the motion, co-sponsored by four other senators including Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman. The text condemns "the mass atrocities committed by the government of Syria and [supports] the right of the people of Syria to be safe and to defend themselves."

    The non-binding resolution "supports calls by Arab leaders to provide the people of Syria with the means to defend themselves against Bashar al-Assad and his forces, including through the provision of weapons and other material support."

    Meanwhile, several hundred exiled Syrian opposition figures ended a meeting in Istanbul on Wednesday by declaring the Syrian National Council to be the "formal interlocutor and formal representative of the Syrian people." Most participants signed on to the declaration. Some dissidents walked out of the talks on Tuesday, accusing the SNC of not listening to differing views about how to end decades of autocratic government in Syria.

    The United Nations said Tuesday the number of people killed in Syria's crackdown has risen to more than 9,000, an increase of about 1,000 over the world body's previous estimate.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    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 page of 2
        Next 
    by: Omid
    March 29, 2012 1:21 AM
    It is not any world country's fault just is their failure can't protect their countries, citizens and give chance to superior like West or East to interfere in their destiny in own choice to do any thing they want did and doing-democracy, human rights, women right.. are just a pretext to justify their exploiting and colonizing actions.

    by: Bashar
    March 28, 2012 7:38 PM
    What about the rebels? Have they accepted the plan by Kofi Annan yet? We cannot gain peace if the terrorists dislike it and the hypocrites are supporting them and continue slandering against the Government.

    by: Jeff G
    March 28, 2012 6:02 PM
    I'm not sure that letting the so-called rebels gain control in Syria is a good thing since they are associated with terrorists and radical Islamic groups. Assad may not be perfect, but at least his government is secular. From what I have seen, the so-called rebels are using civilian population centers as cover for their attacks upon Syrian government forces, so they bear the lion share of guilt for civilian casualties in my opinion.

    by: Mary
    March 28, 2012 10:32 AM
    The rebels have the entire might of the sunni islamic world including saudi arabia, qatar and turkey behind. These are no angels and like al qaida have been committing atrocities on minorities in their areas. It is a dog eat dog world there! Why would we want to intervene in a cesspool where everybody is bad? Why don't you appeal to the Saudi king- maybe he can take the money that he spends on terrorism in the west and use it for terrorism in Syria?

    by: Yamani
    March 28, 2012 10:25 AM
    Situation in Syria is not so easy for Western countries and USA, from one hand they don't like Assad regime as it is close to Iranian and a very good supporter to Heizb Allah, from the other hand the regime is good guard to Israel's borders and chaos in Syria will not satisfy Israel and may cause annoying to it.

    by: David
    March 28, 2012 10:20 AM
    Send Assads and Asef Shaukat to ICC. Asef Shaukat is the real mastermind behind all the killings. He was the chief of Syrian Intellegence branch that is specialized in storming opposition stronholds. I am 100% sure his day is coming in court and he will pay for his atrocities.

    by: Libyan
    March 28, 2012 10:10 AM
    Assaid's regime dreams that it will prevent people from having thier freedom after more than 50 yeas of dectrorship by him and his father.
    Many before him tried this but finally people will WIN and he will be begging and crying like a cowrd.
    My message to all of those who support this killing regime is , stand with people not with a regime . The communism ear has vanished and democracy will dominate if you accept that or not.

    by: bill
    March 28, 2012 10:04 AM
    in response to:
    Let me get this straight, if Assad wasn't the ruler and was just a civillian, he would be killed or arrested by now, as a murderer. But because he is a leader systematically killing his own people at random, that is okay? Firing tanks, bombs etc on buildings that house civillians is a form of terrorism, is it not? I can't wait to see this leader hung.

    Just like George W. Bush... he should of been arrested for war crimes but was not. Why the double standard?

    by: abu
    March 28, 2012 9:55 AM
    I lived in Syria and I know what this ruthless regime is capable of doing, how much more rape , torture and killing of children and the innocents do we have to endure, until the blind and deaf international community does something ?

    by: Dave
    March 28, 2012 9:11 AM
    Its high time the world stop keeping a blind eye to the crimes being committed by the Assad regime. Its time NATO stepped in. The Assads are nothing but murderers and thugs sucking the life out of the Syrian people.
    Comments page of 2
        Next 

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora