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

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    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 Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    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.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora