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

    US Lawmakers Vow to Continue Immigrant Program for Afghan Interpreters

    Congressional inaction threatens funding for effort which began in 2008 and has allowed more than 20,000 interpreters, their family members to immigrate to US

    Brexit's Impact on Russia Stirs Concern

    Some analysts see Brexit aiding Putin's plans to destabilize European politics; others note that an economically unstable Europe is not in Moscow's interests

    US to Train Cambodian Government on Combating Cybercrime

    Concerns raised over drafting of law, as critics fear cybercrime regulations could be used to restrict freedom of expression and stifle political dissent

    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.
    Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roari
    X
    June 28, 2016 10:33 AM
    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video New York Pride March A Celebration of Life, Mourning of Loss

    At this year’s march in New York marking the end of pride week, a record-breaking crowd of LGBT activists and allies marched down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue, in what will be long remembered as a powerful display of solidarity and remembrance for the 49 victims killed two weeks ago in an Orlando gay nightclub.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora