News / Middle East

    Activists Say Syrian Troops Kill 50 in Homs

    Residents rest in a shelter in is Baba Amr near Homs, February 8, 2012. Syrian forces thrusting into the rebellious city of Homs, killing dozens of civilians.
    Residents rest in a shelter in is Baba Amr near Homs, February 8, 2012. Syrian forces thrusting into the rebellious city of Homs, killing dozens of civilians.

    Syrian rights activists say government forces have killed at least 50 people in an ongoing assault on the central city of Homs, and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pledged to consider sending a joint U.N.-Arab League team to Syria to monitor the escalating violence.

    British-based activist say troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad attacked Homs with gunfire, rockets and shells on Wednesday, heavily damaging more than 20 buildings in rebel-held districts. The activists say the government bombardment of Homs has killed hundreds of people since it began early Saturday. They say at least 13 other people were killed in violence around Syria Wednesday.

    Syrian state media say "armed terrorists" detonated a car bomb in Homs, killing and wounding civilians and troops. State media also accused rebels of attacking the city's oil refinery.

    Undated citizen journalism image provided by Local Coordination Committees in Syria shows man weeping as he sits next to a man who was purportedly killed in shelling by Syrian government forces, Homs, February 8, 2012. (AP Photo)
    Undated citizen journalism image provided by Local Coordination Committees in Syria shows man weeping as he sits next to a man who was purportedly killed in shelling by Syrian government forces, Homs, February 8, 2012. (AP Photo)

    In an opposition video, a young man named Danny Abou Diyne, working in a field clinic in the Homs district of Baba Amr, points to the dead body of a two-year old boy. He says the child was killed when a shell slammed into his house, destroying it.

    “He's about two years old," he said. "He got hit in this war zone, in his house. Is this what the U.N. is waiting for, until there are no more children left? Until they kill all the children and all the women?

    VOA cannot independently confirm the video or opposition figures concerning deaths because Syria restricts independent reporting.

    Free Syrian Army (FSA) members in Saqba, a Damascus suburb, February 8, 2012. (Reuters photo)
    Free Syrian Army (FSA) members in Saqba, a Damascus suburb, February 8, 2012. (Reuters photo)

    Homs low on medical supplies

    A doctor calling himself Mohammed Mohammed told Al Arabiya TV via webcam that he and his colleagues were working under extreme duress and that medical supplies were running low.  He begged the world to pressure Syria to allow ambulances to evacuate the wounded.

    Rami Abdel Rahman of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights in London told Alhurra TV that the government shelling was creating a human disaster. He added that it is difficult to get an exact casualty figure because many people were buried under the rubble.

    Abdel Rahman also said pro-government militias killed 30 members of three families overnight when they stormed their homes on the outskirts of Homs.  He called the killings “a massacre.”

    Activists Say Syrian Troops Kill 50 in Homs
    Activists Say Syrian Troops Kill 50 in Homs

    Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says Syrian military actions are taking place in a number of parts of the country and that most of the operations are under the command of President Assad's family members.

    He says the military campaign is taking place in the northern district of Idlib, the southern Horan region bordering Jordan, in the outer suburbs of Damascus, as well as in Homs.  He says top members of Assad's family, including his brother-in-law Assef Shawqut and his brother Maher, are directing the campaign, resembling the Gadhafi family's involvement in the fighting in Libya.

    Recent Comments on Syria
    U.S. President Barack Obama said February 4 the citizens of Syria must know the United States is with them, and the Assad regime must come to an end.
    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin condemned all violence "regardless of its source," but said February 8 outside forces should let Syrians settle their conflict "independently."
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Februray 7 the recent failure of the U.N. Security Council to pass a motion pressuring Syria was a fiasco.
    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said February 6 no government can attack its population "without its legitimacy being eroded."
    U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay has called for urgent international action to protect civilians in Syria, saying she is "appalled" by the government's "willful assault on the city of Homs."
    French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said February 8 Mr. Assad's reform promises are merely manipulation and should not be believed.
    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday Russia and China had set themselves apart from Arab and world opinion by voting against a U.N. resolution on Syria.


    Turkey proposes conference

    Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Wednesday his government is ready to host an international conference to support the Syrian people. He said the conference should be held promptly in Istanbul or in another regional country. Davutoglu spoke before leaving for Washington to meet U.S. congressional leaders and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for talks likely to focus on Syria.

    Washington has been exploring the possibility of providing humanitarian aid to Syrians in cooperation with U.S. allies. Western powers and Arab nations have said repeatedly they do not want to intervene militarily in the Syrian conflict.

    A senior EU official said the 27-nation bloc plans to announce a tightening of economic sanctions on the Assad government at a foreign ministers meeting February 27.

    The EU official said new measures against Syria are likely to include a block on financial transactions with the Syrian central bank and a ban on purchases of Syrian phosphates - one of the country's main natural resources. EU nations buy about 40 percent of Syria's phosphate exports. The EU stopped importing oil from Syria last year.

    Russia opposes unilateral moves

    The Kremlin said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy to avoid "hasty unilateral moves" toward Syria. Mr. Medvedev spoke to the French president by telephone Wednesday.

    Moscow used its U.N. Security Council veto last week to block a Western and Arab-backed resolution that would have endorsed an Arab League plan calling on Mr. Assad to step aside. The Syrian president is a key Russian military ally.

    Mr. Sarkozy's office said he used the phone conversation to call on the Russian president to fully support the Arab League plan and increase pressure on Mr. Assad to stop brutally repressing the Syrian people.

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov met Mr. Assad in Damascus on Tuesday and secured a pledge from the Syrian president to assign his deputy to hold a dialogue with the Syrian opposition. But Syrian opposition groups have rejected dialogue with the Assad government.

    White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday Mr. Assad had an opportunity to talk to the opposition early in the uprising, but Washington believes that opportunity no longer exists.

    Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron said Wednesday he has "very little confidence" in the Russian-Syrian efforts, while French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Mr. Assad's promises are merely manipulation and should not be believed.

    U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay called for urgent international action to protect civilians in Syria, saying she is "appalled" by the government's "willful assault on the city of Homs." Pillay also said is it time for the international community to "cut through the politics and take action" to protect the civilian population.

    VOA Wire Services and reporter Dorian Jones in Istanbul contributed to the report.

    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.

    You May Like

    Turkey, West in Standoff Over Syrian Refugees

    Turkish government refuses to admit refugees, the first in a wave of civilians fleeing offensive by Assad regime in northern Aleppo countryside

    Jailed American Testifies About Islamist Involvement in Mumbai Attacks

    David Headley testifies via video link that Pakistan-based Islamic terror group made two failed attempts to mount strikes in Mumbai in months prior to coordinated assault

    These Are the 10 Smartest US States

    A new report breaks down the nation's best and brightest

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    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 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 Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    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.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.