News / Middle East

    UN Chief: Syria Ignores Repeated Calls to End Violence

    Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint at the entrance of Harasta northeast of the capital Damascus, August 29, 2011
    Syrian soldiers man a checkpoint at the entrance of Harasta northeast of the capital Damascus, August 29, 2011

    U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says violence against Syrians has continued despite his repeated calls for President Bashar al-Assad to halt "excessive and lethal" actions by government security forces.

    Ban made the comments while speaking Thursday at the University of Sydney in Australia.

    "I have repeatedly urged President Assad to end the excessive and lethal use of force by his security forces against his own people - Syrian people - and to engage in meaningful inclusive dialogue by taking bold political reform before it is too late," he said. "Yet the violent operation against the civilians, including mass arrests and killings, continues."

    Rights activists said the crackdown continued Thursday with heavy gunfire as military vehicles stormed a village in northwestern Syria.  The operation comes a day after activists said security forces killed at least 20 people during raids against anti-government protesters, mostly in the central Homs region.

    France on Wednesday accused Syria of committing "crimes against humanity" in the crackdown as activists said Syrian security forces killed at least 20 people during raids against anti-government protesters.

    French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe condemned the violence, saying international sanctions against Syria are justified.  He met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and urged Russia to take a stronger stance against Syria.  Lavrov said his country still favors using dialogue to resolve the unrest.

    The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said Wednesday it is "past time" for a Security Council resolution to pressure Assad's government.  She said support for additional measure is not yet unanimous, but members will continue working towards a "meaningful resolution."

    Syria's opposition coalition - the Local Coordinating Committees of Syria - said the majority of Wednesday's deaths took place in the central Homs region.

    A coalition spokesman said Syrian security forces backed by tanks swept into Homs early Wednesday, and that a "complete military assault" took place in several neighborhoods in the flashpoint city.

    Also Wednesday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Assad, should back away from his violent crackdown on protesters and enter talks with the opposition.

    During a live interview in Tehran with a Portuguese television station Radiotelevisao Portuguesa, the Iranian leader said "a military solution is never the right" one. He said problems must be dealt with through dialogue.

    Earlier this year, Iranian security officials used tear gas and electric batons to disperse anti-government protesters in Tehran. Scores were arrested. And at least 72 people were killed during the crackdown on protests after Iran's disputed 2009 presidential elections. Iranian authorities also arrested hundreds of people and sentenced more than 80 of them to prison.

    Meanwhile, Assad's government delayed a planned Arab League visit expected to begin Wednesday. The league said Secretary-General Nabil Elaraby now plans to visit Syria on Saturday.

    Elaraby has said he wants to express Arab concerns about the violence in Syria and listen to the opinions of Syrian leaders. Last month, Syrian authorities rejected an Arab League statement calling for an end to the bloodshed.

    The United Nations estimates 2,200 people have been killed since March after Assad launched the crackdown on dissent. However, Syria has blamed much of the violence on armed gangs and "terrorists."

     

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

    You May Like

    Clinton, Trump and the 'Woman’s Card'

    Ask supporters of Democratic front-runner in US presidential campaign, and they’ll tell you Republican presidential candidate is playing a dangerous hand

    Russian Censorship Group Seeks Chinese Help to Better Control Internet

    At recent Safe Internet League forum in Moscow, speakers from both nations underscored desire for authorities to further limit and control information online

    Video Makeshift Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Free classes in Islamabad park serve a few of the country’s nearly 25 million out-of-school youths; NGO cites ‘education crisis’

    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.
    Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensionsi
    X
    April 29, 2016 12:28 AM
    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Turkish Kurd Islamist Rally Stokes Tensions

    In a sign of the rising power of Islamists in Turkey, more than 100,000 people recently gathered in Diyarbakir, the main city in Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, to mark the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad. The gathering highlighted tensions with the pro-secular Kurdish nationalist movement. Dorian Jones reports from Diyarbakir.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Bangladesh Targeted Killings Spark Wave of Fear

    People in Bangladesh’s capital are expressing deep concern over the brutal attacks that have killed secular blogger, and most recently a gay rights activist and an employee of the U.S. embassy. Xulhaz Mannan, an embassy protocol officer and the editor of the country’s only gay and transgender magazine Roopban; and his friend Mehboob Rabbi Tanoy, a gay rights activist, were hacked to death by five attackers in Mannan’s Dhaka home earlier this month.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.
    Video

    Video West Urges Unity in Libya as Migrant Numbers Soar

    The Italian government says a NATO-led mission aimed at stemming the flow of migrants from Libya to Europe could be up and running by July. There are concerns that the number of migrants could soar as the route through Greece and the Balkans remains blocked. Western powers say the political chaos in Libya is being exploited by people smugglers — and they are pressuring rival groups to come together under the new unity government. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Russia’s TV Rain Swims Against Tide in Sea of Kremlin Propaganda

    Russia’s media freedoms have been gradually eroded under President Vladimir Putin as his government has increased state ownership, influence, and restrictions on critical reporting. Television, where most Russians get their news, has been the main target and is now almost completely state controlled. But in the Russian capital, TV Rain stands out as an island in a sea of Kremlin propaganda.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora