News / Middle East

Syrian Situation Worries UN Chief

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has told Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that he is alarmed at reports of excessive use of force by government security forces against citizens and continued widespread violations of human rights.

Ban spoke by telephone Wednesday with Assad, who said military and police operations had stopped.

A spokesman for the U.N. chief said Ban also continued his calls for an independent investigation into the violence, and for Syria to cooperate with the U.N.'s human rights office.

The U.N. Security Council is set to hear Thursday from U.N. human rights chief Navi Pillay, who is expected to call for the Council to refer Syria to the International Criminal Court.

The U.N. Human Rights Council said Thursday it will hold a special session on Monday to examine the violence in Syria, following a request from 24 of its members.  Those calling for the session included all four Arab nations on the council - Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Ban's spokesman said Assad also pledged to carry out several reforms in the coming months, including revising the country's constitution and holding parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, Western media say the White House is preparing to call for Assad to step down.  The move could come as early as Thursday, and may also include plans for new sanctions against Syria.

The United States has criticized Assad saying he has lost legitimacy, as he faces growing international pressure to end the violent crackdown against dissent.

Activists said Syrian security forces detained hundreds of people Wednesday in the besieged port city of Latakia, where at least 35 people have been killed during the past week.

The London-based Syrian rights group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that more than 700 troops raided homes in Latakia's southern al-Raml district, arresting people on lists.

Activists also said forces loyal to Assad killed nine people in the central city of Homs, including two protesters shot dead in front of a mosque after nightly Ramadan prayers.

Latakia's al-Raml is home to a crowded Palestinian refugee camp where many low-income Syrians also live.  U.N. officials say as many as 10,000 residents fled the neighborhood during Syria's four-day operation to crush dissent in the city.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency said Wednesday it has determined the whereabouts of about 2,000 of the displaced people and is providing them with aid.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Wednesday compared the situation in Syria with that in Libya, noting that Assad's government continues to kill civilians despite repeated diplomatic intervention.  Separately, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called for "the bloodshed" to stop during a joint news conference with his Jordanian counterpart.

The U.S. State Department also said Wednesday the United States is restricting the travel of Syria's ambassador to the U.S. as well as other embassy personnel.  A spokesman said the officials must get permission to travel outside the Washington metropolitan area, and that the move is in response to a similar ban on U.S. personnel enacted by Syria last month.

Meanwhile, the United Nations said it is withdrawing its non-essential personnel from Syria.  

Rights groups and activists say at least 1,800 civilians have been killed since the start of the government's crackdown in mid-March.

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

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

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee 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.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
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 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 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.

All About America

AppleAndroid