World News

UN Chief: Security Council Must Find Unity on Syria



U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is calling on the U.N. Security Council to "find unity" on the situation in Syria, and says a U.N. team investigating an alleged chemical attack near Damascus last week needs time to do its work.

Mr. Ban said in a speech Wednesday in The Hague that the latest escalation in Syria has caused "horrendous casualties" and produced images unlike any the world has seen this century. He strongly criticized the use of chemical weapons, saying any deployment, at any time, under any circumstances would represent "an atrocious violation of international law."

Syria has denied carrying out a chemical attack.

The U.N. team probing the alleged attack resumed its work Wednesday, a day after postponing their on-site investigation because of security concerns.

Mr. Ban reiterated the need for a political solution in Syria, saying military aid to both sides of the conflict has so far produced a country "on the verge of collapse."



Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is warning that foreign military intervention in Syria would destabilize the country and the region.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said Wednesday that Lavrov stressed the need for a political solution in a phone call with U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, and that the two diplomats agreed all parties inside and outside Syria must act responsibly.

Brahimi has been working for a year to find a peaceful resolution to the crisis, which since March 2011 has left more than 100,000 people dead and millions more displaced.

Western powers and the Arab League have condemned what they say was clearly a chemical attack by Syrian forces last week that killed hundreds of people.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem reiterated Tuesday his country's denial that it carried out a chemical attack and challenged the United States and its European allies to show evidence.

He said Syria's opponents are using the allegations as an excuse to attack, and vowed to strike back.

The Arab League has also condemned the alleged attack, blaming the Syrian government and demanding those responsible be put on trial.

U.S. officials have said there is "no doubt" Syrian forces used chemical weapons, and that President Barack Obama could decide on a response within days.

In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has recalled his country's parliament to discuss the situation on Thursday. He said any action would be a response to the use of chemical weapons, and not intended to draw Western powers further into the Syrian conflict.

French President Francois Hollande says his country is ready to punish those who made the "vile" decision to gas innocent people. He also promised France will increase its military support to the main Syrian opposition group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of a "forceful" response if Syria makes any attempt to attack Israel.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu denounced the Syrian government's alleged chemical weapon attacks near Damascus as a "crime against humanity" and said it must "not go unanswered."

But China's state news agency Xinhua cautioned against a rush to military action. In a Tuesday commentary, it said the world should remember that the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq followed U.S. allegations that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Those weapons were never found.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs