News

Fighting in Syria Kills 17; UN Monitors Expand Visits

In this Saturday, April 21, 2012 photo, Syrians carry the bodies of an infant, Adam al Najjar, and Free Syrian Army fighter, Mowaffaq al Nablsi, 42, during their funeral in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.
In this Saturday, April 21, 2012 photo, Syrians carry the bodies of an infant, Adam al Najjar, and Free Syrian Army fighter, Mowaffaq al Nablsi, 42, during their funeral in Douma, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

Attacks by Syrian government and rebel forces have killed at least 17 people across the country as a small U.N. team visited more towns to monitor a tenuous cease-fire that has failed to end 13 months of violent conflict.

The Local Coordination Committees, a Syrian activist group, said Sunday's deaths included six people in the devastated flashpoint city of Homs with additional killings in Idlib, Daraa and the Damascus suburbs.

Activists and Syrian state media said Sunday's death toll includes five soldiers killed when a roadside bomb struck their armored personnel carrier.

None of the casualties could be independently confirmed.

Several unarmed U.N. truce monitors who have been stationed in Syria for the past week visited the opposition stronghold of Rastan and the central city of Hama Sunday.

Two members of the advance team also set up a base in Homs after spending the night in the city. Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the continued presence of observers in Homs is deterring attacks by government forces.

The U.N. Security Council voted Saturday to expand the observer mission in Syria from 30 to 300 members in the hope of salvaging the April 12 cease-fire mediated by international envoy Kofi Annan.

Fighting between government and rebel forces has eased in some areas when observers are present, but has continued in others.

In a statement Sunday, Mr. Annan praised the Security Council resolution as a "pivotal moment" in stabilizing Syria. He urged security forces and rebel fighters to put down their weapons and work with the U.N. observers to consolidate the cease-fire.

But Mr. Annan said the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has a "particular" duty to desist from using heavy weapons and honor its pledge to withdraw them from population centers.

The mission is set for at least 90 days, but the Council left it up to U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon to decide when it will be safe enough to deploy it. This would be the first time the U.N. has sent an unarmed mission into a conflict zone, and Western diplomats warned the team will likely fail unless the Syrian government complies with the cease-fire.

A spokeswoman for the exiled opposition Syrian National Council said Sunday the expanded observer mission is not enough to protect people from government attacks. Basma Kodmani called for at least 3,000 monitors to be sent to Syria quickly.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in the Syrian government's 13-month crackdown on dissent, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

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.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs