News / Middle East

    Red Cross Evacuation in Homs On Hold

    An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.
    An amateur video released by the Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings near a mosque in Homs, Syria, June 21, 2012.
    Edward Yeranian
    CAIRO - Attempts by the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the battered northern Syrian city of Homs appear to be stalled Thursday, as government forces continue their military offensive against the city and its surroundings. New reports also claim that government troops shelled a group of mourners in the southern flashpoint city of Dara'a, killing a large number of people.

    Rabab al-Rifai, a spokeswoman for the ICRC, said the team remains in another part of Homs and will continue to attempt to enter the badly hit neighborhood of Hamidiya.

    "An ICRC team and Syrian Arab Red Crescent was heading today to Hamidiya area, but it had to turn back to Homs city," said al-Rifai. "The team had to return as it heard close shootings. So, now, they are trying to re-establish contact with all concerned  - the authorities and the opposition - and we will attempt to go back again to the area [later today]."

    Rifai said both the ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent are hoping to evacuate both the sick and wounded, as well as ordinary citizens trapped inside the city by fighting.

    “Fighting has been raging for more than 10 days between the Syrian Army and armed opposition groups in several neighborhoods of Homs, so, there are hundreds of civilians to our knowledge that are stuck in the old city of Homs," she said. "They are unable to leave and find refuge in safer areas because of the ongoing armed confrontations.”

    Rifai says that the ICRC has helped 400,000 Syrians affected by unrest or fighting, since the start of the year. ICRC and the Syrian Red Crescent have teams in most major Syrian cities.

    • This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network purports to show smoke rising from buildings in Homs, Syria, June 18, 2012.
    • Fire burns after shelling at the Al Qussoor area in Homs, Syria, June 18, 2012.
    • This image made from amateur video purports to show smoke rising from buildings in Homs, Syria. Syrian forces renewed shelling of the central city of Homs on Monday, one day after the head of the U.N. observers' mission demanded that warring parties allow
    • Residents flee their homes after shelling in Houla near Homs, Syria, June 18, 2012.
    • Residents gather during the funeral of Hussein Omish, whom protesters say was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in Jubar outside Damascus, Syria, June 18, 2012.
    • Demonstrators hold opposition flags during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Kfr Suseh, Damascus, Syria. June 18, 2012

    Analyst Timor Goksel, who teaches at the American University of Beirut, says the Syrian government "needs to take certain steps to ease the pressure and to soften its image," but that he does not consider the evacuation of civilians to be a "major concession."

    New reports say that a Syrian fighter pilot defected to Jordan Thursday, flying his MiG-21 warplane to al-Mafraq airport. A majority of Syrian air force pilots are Sunni Muslims, while a majority of helicopter pilots are Alawites.

    The Syrian defense minister called the pilot who defected a "deserter and a traitor." He also called on Jordan to return the MiG-21 plane used by the pilot to flee the country.

    Amateur video showed Syrian helicopters shooting missiles at the southern city of Dara'a Thursday. Numerous videos have shown Syrian helicopters crossing different parts of the country in recent days.

    Russia also confirmed Thursday that a Russian ship, the MV Alaed, which was turned back while off the Scottish coast due to the cancellation of its insurance coverage, was carrying helicopters belonging to the Syrian government. It said another vessel would attempt to deliver the cargo.

    Witnesses also reported fierce fighting in the mostly opposition-held Damascus suburb of Douma. Amateur video showed rebel soldiers engaged in street battles with government troops.

    Witnesses report that up to 20 people were killed when government troops shelled a funeral procession in the Dara'a suburb of Inghil. Relatives cried and shouted as they gathered around the bodies laid out on the carpet of a local mosque.

    In Cairo, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said that a contact group would meet to discuss Syria on June 29.

    "A committee including the five major powers would meet for the first time, which is important since previous meetings did not include two of those powers [Russian and China]," said al-Arabi.

    Both Russia and China have repeatedly blocked U.N. Security Council resolutions to condemn the Syrian government for attacking civilian populations. The U.N. estimates that over 10,000 civilians have been killed in more than 15 months of conflict.

    You May Like

    New EU Asylum Rules Could Boost Rightists

    New regulations will seek to correct EU failures in dealing with migrant crisis, most notably inability to get member states to absorb a total of 160,000 refugees

    More Political Turmoil Likely in Iraq as Iran Waits in the Wings

    Analysts warn that Tehran, even though it may not be engineering the Sadrist protests in Baghdad, is seeking to leverage its influence on its neighbor

    Goodbye Ketchup, Hello Sriracha!

    How immigrants are triggering a great transformation in American cuisine

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Anonymous
    June 21, 2012 4:31 PM
    They've been saying theres been over 10,000 killed for 6 months. I bet it is more like triple that or more. Russia is going to get its hand slapped trying to send the helicopters again. Wake up and smell the coffee Putin, you can't aid a ruthless dictator and get away with it. The world will penalize you and seclude you. The best thing that could ever happen to Russia is a great leader that is friendly and caring about the world take over. Not only would it help the Russian people, but also build stronger world ties. Putin has the stupidest ideas, unlike any other leader. Hopefully his Arab Spring arrives in Moscow soon. I would love to see his own people slap him with a revolution, he deserves it.

    by: Andrey Shelgunov from: Russia
    June 21, 2012 12:46 PM
    How this weapon can kill people? it's air defenses. Why force the evil thoughts in relation to the Russians?
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    June 23, 2012 6:37 PM
    what has he said? what am i supposed to make of it?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Rulingi
    X
    May 03, 2016 5:16 PM
    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Tensions Rising Ahead of South China Sea Ruling

    As the Philippines awaits an international arbitration ruling on a challenge to China's claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, it is already becoming clear that regardless of which way the decision goes, the dispute is intensifying. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
    Video

    Video Painting Captures President Lincoln Assassination Aftermath

    A newly restored painting captures the moments following President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865. It was recently unveiled at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, where America’s 16th president was shot. It is the only known painting by an eyewitness that captures the horror of that fateful night. VOA’s Julie Taboh tells us more about the painting and what it took to restore it to its original condition.
    Video

    Video Elephant Summit Results in $5M in Pledges, Presidential Support

    Attended and supported by three African presidents, a three-day anti-poaching summit has concluded in Kenya, resulting in $5 million in pledges and a united message to the world that elephants are worth more alive than dead. The summit culminated at the Nairobi National Park with the largest ivory burn in history. VOA’s Jill Craig attended the summit and has this report about the outcomes.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora