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.

You May Like

Afghan Government: Taliban Leader Mullah Omar Died in 2013

update President Ashraf Ghani's office confirms reclusive Taliban leader died in 2013, but Taliban itself claim Omar is still alive More

Erdogan in China Amid Tensions on Uighurs, Missile System

Turkey's president has criticized China's heavy-handed policies toward Uighurs in violence-plagued Xinjiang region, where China says it is fighting foreign-backed separatists More

Critics: China’s President Using Law to Tighten Grip on Power

President Xi, who has stressed importance of 'rule of law' and law-based governance, has exerted increasingly tighter grip over society since coming to office More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs