News / Middle East

Mass Anti-Government Rallies Spike Across Syria

In this image from amateur video made available by the Shaam News Network and shot on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, Arab League observers are seen at a protest in Idlib, Syria.
In this image from amateur video made available by the Shaam News Network and shot on Friday, Dec. 30, 2011, Arab League observers are seen at a protest in Idlib, Syria.

Large crowds of anti-government protesters poured into the streets of many Syrian towns and cities Friday, heeding calls by opposition leaders to make a show of strength, as Arab League observers pursue their mission. Government forces fired on protesters causing a number of casualties.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in the northern Syrian city of Idlib to welcome a team of Arab League observers in the country to monitor the extent of the government's crackdown on dissent.

The gathering was part of what opposition activists called Friday a “march to the central squares.”

Opposition videos showed protesters marching in more than three dozen towns and cities across the country, Some protesters chanted that Arab League observers were “ignoring their plight.”

Mideast analyst Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group said Syrians were showing a remarkable solidarity in the face of what he called "divide and rule” tactics of the government:

“What we see in Syria is the emergence of an unprecedented sense of national unity. You have a rediscovery of the country's history, a sense of solidarity among cities in Syria, which never existed prior to this crisis. So, we're really seeing a society which is quite awake now,” Harling said.

In the Damascus suburb of Douma, dozens of demonstrators were reportedly wounded after security forces opened fire on them.

Opposition activists also accused the government of using “cluster bombs” against protesters. Opposition videos from Homs showed what activists claimed were shrapnel marks caused by the weapons. The reports could not be confirmed as Syria does not allow foreign media to roam freely.

Pro-Syrian regime protesters in the flashpoint city of Homs in central Syria, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011
Pro-Syrian regime protesters in the flashpoint city of Homs in central Syria, Thursday, Dec. 29, 2011

In Cairo, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi said the observer mission will “last for just 19 more days.” The observers have not presented any public report of their findings of the visit that began this week and have been cautious in their few comments.

Opposition leaders have complained that the government is “duping” observers by hiding tanks and disguising security forces as civil defense or ambulance crews.

One video on opposition websites showed a woman in Homs pleading with an Arab League observer to help locate her teenage son, whom she says was kidnapped by government security forces.

Syrian government TV showed several pro-government demonstrations in Damascus, in which small crowds of government supporters chanted slogans in favor of President Bashar al-Assad.

The state-run SANA news agency says "massive crowds" of government supporters rallied in favor of national unity.

It was again, a starkly different view than was presented by opposition videos distributed on the Internet.

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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid