News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Seeking Army Defectors Storm Cities, Killing 8

Syrian troops backed by tanks and helicopters have killed at least eight people in raids designed to crush army deserters who are fighting back after months of mostly peaceful protests against President Bashar al-Assad.

Activists say dozens of armored vehicles entered the central town of Rastan early Tuesday, while army troops stormed hospital emergency rooms looking for wounded rebel soldiers. Dozens of people were reported taken from their homes.

The defectors, estimated to number in the thousands across the country, are part of the newly formed Free Syrian Army. The dissident soldiers are led by Colonel Riad al-Asaad, who defected from the air force in July.

Rights groups say at least six people were killed Tuesday in government raids on the central city of Homs and two more in northwestern Idlib province.

In New York, European powers dropped demands for immediate sanctions against Mr. Assad in a new draft U.N. resolution condemning Syria's crackdown.

The scaled-back resolution, aimed at breaking a deadlock on the Security Council, includes the threat of future sanctions if Syrian security forces do not halt military operations against civilians. Diplomats say the Council will discuss the revised draft Wednesday and hope for a vote by the end of the week.

In a blog launched Monday, the British ambassador in Damascus assailed Syria's leaders for the "violent suppression of mostly peaceful protests" and for systematically trying to hide the reality from the world. Simon Collis wrote that the government "remains determined to control every significant aspect of political life in Syria" and "will do anything" to maintain power.

Tuesday's operations in Rastan and Homs came a day after Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem repeated the government's position that armed groups are responsible for the situation in Syria.

The U.S. ambassador in Syria, Robert Ford, told The Washington Post that "the vast majority" of protesters are still unarmed. But Syrian military defections have been accelerating in recent weeks and the newspaper reported that the Free Syrian Army is expanding. The group has announced the formation of 12 battalions across the country.

Human Rights Watch rejected Syria's explanation of the violence. The group's U.N. director, Philippe Bolopion, said documented evidence shows the Syrian government has carried out a "merciless campaign" of killings, torture and arbitrary detention. He urged the U.N. Security Council to take action.

President Assad has repeatedly sent troops across the country to quell anti-government protests. The U.N. says the crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

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 Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid