News / Middle East

UN Demands End to Battles in Syrian Town of Qusair

A photo distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, May 22,2013, shows detainees described by SANA as "terrorists fighters", a term commonly used to describe rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Qusair, near Homs.
A photo distributed by Syria's national news agency SANA, May 22,2013, shows detainees described by SANA as "terrorists fighters", a term commonly used to describe rebels fighting to topple President Bashar al-Assad, Qusair, near Homs.
Lisa Schlein
The U.N. Human Rights Council voted to condemn the Syrian regime's use of foreign fighters in the battle-torn town of Qusair and ordered an urgent probe into deaths there. Thirty-six of the council's 47 member states voted in favor.

The United Nations Human Rights Council went into an emergency session on Syria on Wednesday to debate a draft resolution to end fighting around the strategic town of Qusair.

The draft, referring to Hezbollah, Lebanon’s militant Shi'ite group, condemned the presence of foreign fighters siding with the government of President Bashar al-Assad as a serious threat to regional security.

But Syria's government was not without its supporters.

This citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings that were damaged from a Syrian forces air strike in the towThis citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings that were damaged from a Syrian forces air strike in the tow
x
This citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings that were damaged from a Syrian forces air strike in the tow
This citizen journalism image provided by Qusair Lens, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows Syrian citizens inspecting the rubble of damaged buildings that were damaged from a Syrian forces air strike in the tow
Before the proceedings began, the Russian representative objected to holding a special session on Syria, saying the matter could be handled as part of regular business.

But he was quickly overruled and the debate began with a speech by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.  She presented a long list of what she said are human rights violations being committed by both government and rebel forces against civilians.  

“In the run-up to the proposed International Conference on Syria in Geneva, states - especially those with influence on the combatants - must collectively act to stop this dreadful conflict from getting even worse. The collapse of the state of Syria would have devastating consequences, not just for Syrians, but also for the region and the whole world," said Pillay.

The United States, which together with Turkey and Qatar requested the special session, also condemned recent government air strikes of Qusair.  U.S. Ambassador to the council Eileen Donahoe:

“The assault on Qusair is the latest in the regime’s attempt to use sectarian-driven war to divide the Syrian people.  We are deeply concerned about the risks of increasing sectarian violence from all sides.  We condemn Hezbollah’s direct role in the hostilities, a role which enflames regional tensions, escalates violence inside Syria and incites instability in Lebanon," said  Donahoe.

The Syrian ambassador, Faysal Khabbaz Hamaoui, denounced what he called the cynical and biased attitude of council members.  He said no massacres have occurred in Qusair. He accused Jihadist groups of terrorizing the people.

He said Syria helped civilians to leave the town under the protection of Syrian troops.

“It gave the armed people a chance to give up their weapons and to leave the town without harm.  However, some of them under orders from Qatar and Turkey were determined to continue the fight, holding thousands of civilians as human shields," said Hamaoui.

Russia's foreign minister said Wednesday that the U.N. body's debate would hamper efforts to organize a peace conference on Syria. He said he was surprised to see the U.S. among the authors of the resolution, saying it runs contrary to the U.S. pledge to help organize the peace conference.  
  • A boy sells juice near a damaged bus in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 30, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters hold weapons at their post in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood, May 29, 2013.
  • Buildings that were damaged during clashes between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and Free Syrian Army fighters, near the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus, May 29, 2013.
  • Relatives visit a grave at the Shi'ite fighters cemetery in Damascus, May 28, 2013.
  • Shi'ite fighters ride through the Sayeda Zainab area of Damascus with their weapons, May 28, 2013.
  • The inside of a damaged mosque in Dahra Abd Rabbo village, Aleppo, May 27, 2013.
  • U.S. Senator John McCain meets with U.S. troops in southern Turkey, May 27, 2013.  He also visited rebels inside Syria.  This picture was released on his Twitter account.
  • Syrians participate in the funeral prayer for Youssef Ghazi al-Sarmani, who was killed in fighting between rebel and government forces, May 27. The logo in red reads "Talbiseh".
  • A boy makes pastry at a shop in Darkush town, Idlib province, May 26, 2013.
  • A group of men smuggle diesel fuel from Syria to Turkey hoping to sell it at a higher price, across the Al-Assi River in Idlib, May 26, 2013.
  • Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad during clashes against Syrian rebels in Aleppo, May 26, 2013.
  • Supporters and relatives of Hezbollah members attend the funeral of a Hezbollah fighter who died in the Syrian conflict. The funeral took place in the Ouzai district in Beirut, May 26, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter feeds pigeons in Homs, May 26, 2013.

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 M by 2015

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid