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
 Previous    
by: Awe N Shok
March 28, 2012 8:46 AM
1. Anyone have any questions about the agreement Asshad made?
2. Can you see BushCheneyRumsfeld acting ANY differently in the same circumstances?

by: Fatimah
March 28, 2012 8:34 AM
The Arab League, the U.N. and President Obama by now should know that they are dealing with a dictatorship that no longer puts any value on any life in Syria that opposes them. The Assad dictatorship is in genocide mode. Only after Assad is gone will the world see the scale of the atrocities committed by these criminals. It is time for an end for negotiations and a time for action. The tragedy of the innocents of Syria by the Assad madmen must come to an end now by whatever means necessary.
Comments page of 2
 Previous    

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