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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid