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

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

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.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid