News

UN Aid Chief: Syria's Baba Amr 'Completely Devastated'

A girl whose father was killed during the recent shelling on Baba Amr district protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Al Qusour, Homs, March 3, 2012. The placard reads
A girl whose father was killed during the recent shelling on Baba Amr district protests against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Al Qusour, Homs, March 3, 2012. The placard reads "The hypocritical international community wants to send aid to Baba Amr.

The U.N. humanitarian chief, Valerie Amos, toured the former Syrian rebel stronghold of Baba Amr Wednesday but found most residents had fled following a bloody military siege, while activists accused the government of trying to cover up evidence of atrocities there.

A spokeswoman for Amos said she found parts of the district "completely devastated" and that very few people were around - most having fled to nearby areas where aid workers are distributing food and medical supplies.

Amos and a Syrian Arab Red Crescent team spent 45 minutes in Baba Amr, but were stopped from entering areas of the central city of Homs still held by opposition forces despite government assurances that she could travel freely within Syria.

The visit was the first by an independent observer since the Syrian military began its month-long assault on the rebellious neighborhood that was seized from rebel control last week. Activists and witnesses say the assault killed hundreds of people and left residents desperately short of food, water and medical care.

The Syrian government has kept Baba Amr sealed off for the past six days, saying it was too dangerous for humanitarian workers to enter. But activists accused the government of engaging in a "mopping-up" operation to hide their atrocities.

Amos also met Syria's foreign minister Wednesday and is to hold talks with other government officials in Damascus on Thursday.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Syria's blocking of humanitarian supplies for civilians represents a “new low” in President Bashar al-Assad's violent campaign against his political opponents. She said tons of food and medicine have been standing by while civilians die and the government launches new assaults, a situation she termed "unacceptable."

Also Wednesday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the top U.S. military leader said Syria's air defenses are five times more sophisticated than what the allied coalition faced in Libya and its extensive stockpile of chemical weapons is 100 times larger. The country is also far more diverse than Libya demographically, ethnically and religiously.

Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told U.S. lawmakers the situation in Syria is "terrible" but has "no simple answers." They said the United States will have to build a multilateral coalition for potential military action. Dempsey also said Syria's opposition numbers 100 groups.

Republican Senator John McCain has called for U.S. air strikes to end Mr. Assad's bloody crackdown. He and other powerful senators have also raised the possibility of arming the Syrian rebels.

In New York, Russia's U.N. envoy accused Libya of training Syrian opposition fighters in Libyan camps and sending them back to Syria to attack pro-Assad forces. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin told the U.N. Security Council that the Libyan authorities are supporting what he called a "special training center for the Syrian revolutionaries" which sends people "to Syria to attack the legal government."

Churkin did offer further information.

Russia has been unhappy with how the international community has implemented Security Council resolutions, mandating the protection of Libyan civilians during the fight for liberation from Moammar Gadhafi's 42-year long dictatorship.

In council discussions on the nearly year-long government crackdown in Syria, Russia has repeatedly invoked Libya as a bad example and worked to prevent any kind of international interference in the Syrian conflict.

Join the conversation on our social journalism site -
Middle East Voices
. Follow our Middle East reports on
Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: The Truth!
March 08, 2012 4:44 AM
All Arab countries should hold their heads in shame for allowing Assad to murder his own people. Stop looking for Western help, and become responsible leaders in the World.

by: ahgo
March 08, 2012 3:31 AM
I have no single doubt that new extremist religious organisations more powerful and strong than al-Gaeda will appear.the hypocritical policies of world powers are leading to this.Indeed Syrian people will support who helps them in plight would it be USA or al-Gaeda or anybody else.

by: kamil
March 08, 2012 1:28 AM
all these manipulation with children its lowest level of moral degradation that the west can reach. the west wants mess in syria to press iran, otherwise it would be marginal news. they implement sanctions and sent food. international community its not governments its people who don't know how to reach each other

by: keltrava
March 07, 2012 4:10 PM
So according to the article the UN observer was stopped from entering opposition held areas.
I am quite sure if the author travels to Syria he or she will have no trouble gaining access. Better take out some insurance first though.

by: Robert
March 07, 2012 3:48 PM
Is it more devastated than the Branch Davidian Church was after the government burned it to the ground with women and children inside?

by: thinker
March 07, 2012 11:47 AM
With too many people in the world, the Chinese choose birth control. The US chooses abortion. Syria chooses murder. What kind of people are the survivors? Are they the best ones to carry forward the human race?
We need an Ice Age to clean this up.

by: abu
March 07, 2012 11:31 AM
when will the whole world understand that, Syria has NO regime, and NO legitimate government they only have a group of thugs and murderers, I guess you will have to be a Syrian to understand this, how sad !

by: Hassan
March 07, 2012 7:59 AM
Why the Assad dictatorship must be wiped out. = Torture and killings reportedly took place in the Homs military hospital by security forces dressed as doctors and allegedly acting with the complicity of medical personnel. The U.N. inquiry documented evidence that sections of Homs military hospital and Latakia state hospital were "transformed into torture centres actually within the hospitals", U.N. human rights spokesman Rupert Colville said.

by: NATIONAL AWARDS FUND OF RUSSIAN FEDERATION
March 07, 2012 6:59 AM
PUTIN & MEDVEDEV ARE 2 RUSSIAN KILLERS OF SYRIA.

by: Braimah mumuni alexander
March 07, 2012 6:49 AM
Assad for Allah"s sake stop the crackdown and have simpathy for humanity.
Comments page of 2
    Next 

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs