News / Middle East

Syria's Assad Replaces Defense Minister, Arab Nations Recall Envoys

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (file photo)
TEXT SIZE - +

Syrian state media say President Bashar al-Assad has replaced his defense minister, as Damascus comes under increasing pressure from its Arab neighbors to stop a deadly crackdown against an opposition uprising.

Mr. Assad appointed the Syrian army chief of staff, General Dawoud Rajha, as the new defense minister Monday. He replaces General Ali Habib, whom Syrian state media say is ill. It is the most significant change to the Syrian government since nationwide protests against Mr. Assad's rule began in March.

Bahrain and Kuwait said Monday they have joined Saudi Arabia in recalling their ambassadors from Damascus for consultations on Syria's use of force against the protesters. Saudi King Abdullah announced the recall of his envoy on Sunday and demanded a stop to what he called Mr. Assad's "killing machine."

The ambassador recalls follow the bloodiest week of the five-month uprising. Rights activists say Syrian troops backed by tanks have killed hundreds of people in the central city of Hama, the eastern town of Deir el-Zour and other areas in recent days.

U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said Washington is "heartened" by the Arab world's tougher stand on Syria and sees it as a "further sign" of international condemnation of Mr. Assad's actions.

In Cairo, the head of the influential Sunni Islamic teaching institution, Al-Azhar, said Monday the Syrian government must end the bloodshed immediately - calling it a tragedy that has gone too far. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb also called on Syrian leaders to respond to the "legitimate demands" of the people.

Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Arabi said the 22-nation bloc is not expected to take any drastic measures against Syria, but will engage in what he called "step-by-step persuasion" to resolve the crisis through negotiations.

Syrian activists and residents said government artillery fire resumed Monday in Deir el-Zour, where they say security forces have killed at least 42 people in an assault that began a day earlier. Syria's government denied any assault was underway in the town.

Elsewhere, witnesses and activists say Syrian security forces opened fire on activists attending a funeral of a pro-democracy protester in the southern protest hub of Deraa on Monday. They say three of the mourners were killed, including a prominent dissident,  Maan Awadat.

In another development, a group of Internet hackers known as Anonymous defaced the website of Syria's defense ministry Monday, posting a message to the Syrian people that said "The world stands with you against the brutal regime." The ministry's website became inaccessible after the Internet attack.

On Sunday, President Assad defended his violent crackdown on dissidents, saying it is a national duty to deal with what he called "outlaws" who cut off roads and "terrorize" people. Speaking during talks with Lebanon's visiting foreign minister, Mr. Assad also said Syria is on a path to reform.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

You May Like

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

John the XXIII and John Paul II will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square on April 27 More

Thailand Reacts to Plots Targeting Israelis

Authorities hope arrest of two Lebanese suspects will disrupt plot to attack young Israeli tourists More

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

'Once Upon a Forest' takes viewers deep into heart of tropical rainforest 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.
Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Churchi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 22, 2014 4:14 PM
On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Robotic Mission Kicks Up Lunar Dust

A robotic mission to the moon was deliberately crashed onto the lunar surface late last week, but not before scientists had collected data gathered by the spacecraft which was designed to self-destruct. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports on the preliminary findings of the craft, called LADEE - an acronym for Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer.
Video

Video Boko Haram Claims Responsibility for Bombing in Nigerian Capital

The Nigerian militant group known as Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a bombing in the capital on April 14th that killed 75 people. In the video message, Abubakar Shekau, the man who says he ordered the bombing, says nothing about the mass abduction of more than 100 teenage girls, most of whom are still missing. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Abuja.
Video

Video Ukraine Developments Hang Over Obama Trip to Asia

President Barack Obama's trip to Asia this week comes as concerns over Beijing's territorial ambitions are growing in the region. Those concerns have been compounded by Russia's recent actions in Ukraine and the possibility that Chinese strategists might be looking to Crimea as a model for its territorial disputes with its neighbors. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid