News / Middle East

Syrian Activists Say 23 Soldiers Killed in Fighting

Image made from amateur video purports to show a Syrian rebel helping an injured man in Rastan, Homs, Syria.
Image made from amateur video purports to show a Syrian rebel helping an injured man in Rastan, Homs, Syria.
Edward Yeranian
CAIRO - Syrian activists say rebels killed 23 soldiers in battles near the flashpoint city of Homs - one of the deadliest days for Syrian forces in a 14-month, anti-government uprising.

Rebel soldiers fought sporadic battles against troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in the past 24 hours, claiming heavy casualties on government troops. Opposition videos showed rebel fighters behind earth berms, defending their positions with automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades.

Ibrahim Ayoub, a rebel officer in Rastan, told al Arabiya television that rebel forces had fought off an attempt by government troops to storm the town. He urged members of a joint U.N.-Arab League observer force to visit the town to witness what he says are violations of a shaky cease-fire.

One U.N. observer told residents in northern Idlib province he was doing his best to help end the violence.  Nearly 200 observers are in Syria.

Timor Goksel, a former spokesman for the U.N. observer mission in Lebanon, says he thinks the U.N. presence in Syria should help.

"We should not expect these guys to solve the problem or to blame (them) if it doesn't. I think they are doing a quite credible job within their very limited ways and I think they will get even better the more they get on the ground, the more they get used to the place,” Goksel said.

Goksel does not believe, however, that the observer mission will solve the root cause of the violence in Syria. “The only real solution,” he says, “is the resumption of a dialogue between the government and the opposition.”

Analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London believes that such a dialogue is no longer useful and will only profit the government:

“The principle of having dialogue with the regime is wrong, because if you have dialogue, the regime will gain time and will continue suppressing the opposition and do more damage. The SNC has tried dialogue with the regime and part of the problem that the SNC is going through now is caused by former dialogue with the regime,” Shehadi said.

Shehadi says divisions within the exiled opposition Syrian National Council were made worse when its leader, Burhan Ghalyoun, accepted a dialogue with internal opposition figure Haitham Manah, which according to Shehadi, "set a trap for him, leaking a draft agreement, and sowing discord.”

Meanwhile, Ghalyoun told reporters in Rome that his opposition council has agreed to restructure to be more viable in opposing the government:

He says the performance of the council has been poor, but that restructuring will improve its work in defending the revolution and the poor citizens of Syria.  

He adds that the SNC is still not using weapons but that some states have offered to supply them, if it decides to do so.

Meanwhile, Syria's conflict continues to spill into neighboring Lebanon. Sporadic clashes continued into Monday in the Lebanese city of Tripoli following violence on Sunday.  Lebanese supporters of the Syrian opposition clashed with their pro-Syrian Alawite neighbors.

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

 

Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs