News / Middle East

Kuwait to Host Conference on Syria's Humanitarian Crisis

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with U.N. Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, December 24, 2012.
In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, right, meets with U.N. Arab League deputy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi in Damascus, Syria, December 24, 2012.
VOA News

The Kuwaiti government has announced that it plans to host an international conference next month on helping solve Syria's growing humanitarian crisis.

Kuwait's leader Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al Sabah said on the sidelines of a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting in Bahrain Monday that he will host donors in late January.  He said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon originally proposed the conference.

Earlier in the day, Mr. Ban's peace envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, said he is still worried about Syria's civil war, after meeting with President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. 

  • A child uses a megaphone to lead others in chanting Free Syrian Army slogans during a demonstration in Bustan Al-Qasr, Aleppo, Syria, January 4, 2013.
  • Demonstrators step on a picture of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad during a protest against his regime in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district, January 4, 2013.
  • Damaged buildings and shops with members of the Syrian army patrolling in the distance in the old city of Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
  • Men stand amidst wreckage and debris after a car bomb exploded at a crowded gas station in Barzeh al-Balad district in Damascus, in this handout photograph released by SANA on January 3, 2013.
  • A father reacts after the death of two of his children whom activists said were killed by shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, in al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters stand near a fire after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013.
  • Residents wear masks as they search for bodies after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, al-Ansari, Aleppo, Syria, January 3, 2013
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army stand behind a machine gun turret with a flag reading "There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger" in Aleppo's Bustan Al Qaser district, Syria, January 2, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter asks a child to move away from his house's window as a security measure in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district December 30, 2012.
  • A boy watches men dig graves for future casualties of Syria's civil conflict at Sheikh Saeed cemetery in Azaz city, December 30, 2012.

Brahimi said he discussed with Mr. Assad possible solutions to the 21-month crisis, but he did not elaborate.  Syria's state news agency SANA quoted the president as saying he supports any peace effort that protects Syria's sovereignty and independence.

Fresh violence

Brahimi's visit, his third since becoming the U.N.-Arab League envoy in September,  coincided with a large explosion Sunday that killed more than 60 people in the central town of Halfaya in Hama province. The state news agency issued a report Monday denying opposition claims that government warplanes had bombed a bakery in the town, causing a massacre of civilians.  Instead, SANA blamed the blast on "armed terrorists" -- its term for rebels trying to end Assad's 12-year rule.

Videos of the Halfaya incident posted by activists on the Internet appeared to show that most of the dead were men.  It was not clear if the bombed-out building seen in the video was a bakery.

Late Monday, the U.S. government strongly condemned what it called "the latest vicious attacks by the Syrian regime against civilians" -- specifically the Halfaya incident.  In a written statement, a State Department spokesman said such "brutal attacks" show that Assad's government "has no future in Syria."

Syrian opposition activists posted a video online that they claim shows the scene Monday of another deadly government air strike on a bakery, this time in Talbiseh in Homs province. 

Chemical weapons

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also accused government forces of using a lethal gas to kill rebels in the city of Homs on Sunday.

Syria has repeatedly vowed not to deploy chemical weapons against its own people.  Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whose government is a Syrian ally, said any use of such weapons by the Assad government would be "political suicide."  He made the comment in a Russian television interview broadcast Monday.

Rebels and exiled Syrian opposition groups have refused to negotiate with Assad, demanding instead that he step down and face justice.  More than 40,000 people have been killed since the Syrian president began a violent crackdown on what began as a peaceful opposition uprising in March 2011.

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Comment Sorting
by: NVO from: USA
December 25, 2012 2:18 AM
What a SHAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

by: Anonymous
December 24, 2012 11:35 PM
Ridiculous, the so- called friends of Syria, who are much more than dictators, dare to hide behind morality. These oil rich kingdoms use their minions aka wahabi radical cultists, to ravage nations.

by: Anonymous
December 24, 2012 8:48 PM
Look at the blood under Bashar Al-Assads finger nails. He scrubbed his hands before the meeting but didnt get all the blood off. He just had some jets drop a bomb on a bakery packed with people because he heard they had flour and were able to make bread there. Assad needs to realize the Karma always makes its rounds. Assads days are long over and hopefully the Syrian people catch up to him. Hopefully the father of a daughter that was bombed captures him, then takes his anger out on him. Bashar Al-Assad is the biggest terrorist in Syria, terrorizing most of the country, thousands dead, thousands homeless, thousands in captivity right now, thousands tortured, thousands of businesses and homes destroyed, thousands tortured, the list goes on.... Hopefully the Syrians capture him and put him on trial under Syrian Law (likely thousands of death sentences).

by: kanaikal irumporai from: -
December 24, 2012 6:13 PM
The UN is nothing other than the most obedient dog of the Big-Powers. UN also keeps it's own corrupted individuals all the way from the General Secretary to his lower staffs. Realpolitik dictates for the big powers to choose their cause of actions, while interested individuals within the UN system work for petty benefits. Ban Ki Mon is the most corrupted individual in the world, while his under secretaries are easy buys for the respective state that commit horrendous crimes and simply play between the noses of these big powers, who try to secure their geopolitical interest prevail. Therefore it's only a matter of time and if Assad is able to turn the tide and kill most of those foreign agents and get the rest subdued, the US an others have to obey. There are precedents for such events, where the state carried out Genocide, wipe out hundreds of thousands of people within a span of three weeks and able to wash it's hands with Western help just because of its strategic position in the world map. Assad sit on such a position and if he decides to go once and for all and invite the Chinese and Russians to get things done, Mr. Obama will send his envoy to talk peace and preach a ne kind of justice delivery where the accused is allowed to investigate, prosecute and deliver verdict.
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 25, 2012 2:45 AM
The people are with Assad!!! The insurgents are destroying Syria and themselves will be destroyed.
In Response

by: Anonymous
December 24, 2012 8:51 PM
The Syrians and whoever else helps them will over take Assad. You can't force an entire country to like you. You get toppled. Just a matter of time before forces will be surrounding Bashar Al-Assads location. I wouldn't doubt it in the slightest if Bashar Al-Assad shoots himself in the head (suicide) before giving himself up. What a shame, your typical Hitler type stunt. It would be great if the Syrians capture and keep him alive so he is detained for a long long time. I think death would be the easy way out for Bashar.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
December 24, 2012 12:43 PM
Mr. Lavrov and for that matter Mr. Putin may be well intentioned, but it is unlikely that they have a true picture of the sit. Even the henious dictator, Assad, probably no longer has a true grip on reality wrt the sit on the ground. Once terrorist groups like Hezbollah on behalf of Assad, and Al-Qaida on behalf of the opposition, etc, are involved, the picture of what is fact and fiction on the confrontation lines changes dramatically. We should not be surprised if Chem weapons are introduced; confirmation of the fact(s) is needed rapidly. If Chem weapons are introduced, then the reality of their distribution/ accountability/future loss/danger to all/..- changes all the risk estimates. The body/tissue of the victim, or blood samples of those that survived would help establish the facts (type of chemical(s)/concentrations/etc). If true, it is really bad news for the entire ME/beyond. Very, very sad if true, irrespective who has introduced such weapons.

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