News / Middle East

    Syrian Rebels Set Sights on Damascus Airport

    A rebel fires a weapon around a corner at Syrian government forces in Damascus, Syria, December 7, 2012.A rebel fires a weapon around a corner at Syrian government forces in Damascus, Syria, December 7, 2012.
    x
    A rebel fires a weapon around a corner at Syrian government forces in Damascus, Syria, December 7, 2012.
    A rebel fires a weapon around a corner at Syrian government forces in Damascus, Syria, December 7, 2012.
    VOA News
    Syrian rebels say they plan to seize Damascus International Airport, declaring it a legitimate target in their fight to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

    A rebel commander said Friday attacks on the airport are justified because it is being used as a military zone. He said civilians should avoid the area. It was unclear just how close to the airport the battles had reached.

    Fighting has intensified in the past week in the southern districts of the Syrian capital and its suburbs.

    Suspected Syrian Chemical Weapons

    Sarin
    • Man-made highly toxic odorless, tasteless, colorless nerve agent
    • Possibly used during Iraq-Iran war
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion and skin absorption; people can recover with treatment form mild or moderate exposure

    VX
    • Odorless, tasteless man-made nerve agent; most potent of all nerve agents
    • Slow to evaporate, can last for days on objects
    • Exposure can be through skin contact or inhalation; people can recover with treatment for mild or moderate exposure

    Mustard Gas
    • Chemical warfare agent that causes skin blisters and mucous membranes
    • Sometimes odorless, sometimes smells like garlic, onions or mustard
    • Exposure can be by inhalation, ingestion or skin contact
    • Vapor released in the air can be carried long distances; exposure not usually fatal

    Source: CDC


    Earlier Friday, Syrian activists said the army had bombed two Damascus suburbs and increased reinforcements in an effort to try to reclaim territory controlled by rebels.

    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army fired rockets at the rebel-held Daraya and Moadamiah suburbs southwest of the capital. The group said it feared that troops massing on the suburbs' outskirts could be the prelude to an imminent ground assault.

    Syrian Refugees by Country

    Jordan 448,370
    Lebanon 455,665
    Turkey 324,770
    Iraq 142,395
    Egypt  62,032

    Source: UNHCR
    Also Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said American and Russian officials will meet in the next few days to find ways to work together to end the violence in Syria.

    Clinton said there was no "breakthrough" during talks Thursday in Ireland with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and special United Nations and Arab League envoy Lakhtar Brahimi. But she said they did agree to form lower-level teams to work with Brahimi on possible ways to end the violence.

    Russia and the United States have been on opposite sides of the more than year-long conflict.

    Clinton stressed that it is important for any country with influence in the Middle East to explore all possible solutions, because developments in Syria are "increasingly dangerous not only to Syrians, but to their neighbors."

    Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said intelligence shows Assad may be considering using chemical weapons, as rebel successes in the civil war put increasing pressure on his government.

    The White House has warned Assad that using chemical gas against his own people would be a "red line" for the United States and bring serious consequences.

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Friday using such weapons would be an "outrageous crime."

    Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Maqdad has told Lebanese TV that if Syria had chemical weapons, it would not use them against the Syrian people. He said the West is using the threat of chemical weapons as an excuse to intervene.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora