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

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs