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

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid