News

Activists: 28 Killed in Syria as UN Monitors Check Cease-Fire

A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows Syrian residents talking to Moroccan UN observer, Colonel Ahmed Himmiche (R) during the monitors' visit to the Khalidiya district in the restive city of Homs, April 21, 2012.
A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows Syrian residents talking to Moroccan UN observer, Colonel Ahmed Himmiche (R) during the monitors' visit to the Khalidiya district in the restive city of Homs, April 21, 2012.

Syrian activists say government forces have killed at least 28 people in the city of Hama, one day after residents of the opposition hub welcomed several United Nations soldiers sent to observe a shaky cease-fire in the country's year-long conflict.

The activists say Syrian security forces attacked Hama on Monday morning, shelling its Arbeen district, destroying homes and firing machine guns.  Casualties from the assault could not be independently confirmed.  A small advance team of U.N. observers had visited Hama on Sunday and was greeted by protesters chanting slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

U.N. mission:

Kofi Annan's Six-Point Peace Plan

  • A Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people.
  • A U.N.-supervised end to armed violence by all parties in Syria.
  • Timely humanitarian assistance in all areas affected by fighting.
  • Increasing the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained people.
  • Ensuring freedom of movement for journalists.
  • Respecting freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully.

A U.N. observer spokesman says three more members joined the team Monday, raising its number to 11.  A video posted online by activists showed some U.N. monitors visiting the rebellious Damascus suburb of Douma, surrounded by thousands of people shouting anti-Assad slogans.

Several U.N. observers also made a brief visit to the mountainous town of Zabadani near Damascus. Activists said they were disappointed that the monitors refused to inspect locations where residents said the government was hiding heavy weapons.  The Syrian government pledged to withdraw such weapons from population centers this month as part of a U.N.-backed plan to peacefully resolve its conflict with anti-Assad rebels.

U.N. political affairs chief Lynn Pascoe said Monday the Assad government's compliance with the peace plan is "clearly insufficient."  He made the comment in remarks to the U.N. Security Council. Syria has said it is committed to the plan but reserves the right to respond to attacks by armed terrorists whom it says are driving the revolt.

A spokesman for U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told VOA that the observer team in Syria will grow to 30 personnel by the end of April.  The Security Council has authorized a mission of up to 300 unarmed monitors, but exiled Syrian opposition leaders say that number is too small to cover Syria's vast territory.

Additional Sanctions

In another development, Western powers announced additional sanctions on the Assad government to pressure it into stopping its deadly crackdown on dissent.

U.S. President Barack Obama signed an executive order penalizing companies and individuals that provide technology that helps Syria and its regional ally Iran to oppress their people.  In a speech at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial in Washington, Mr. Obama promised not to give up on the Syrian people, whom he said still brave the street and demand to be heard despite all the "tanks ...  torture and brutality unleashed against them."

The European Union also agreed to ban exports to Syria of luxury goods favored by Mr. Assad and his wife and block the sale of items that his government could use for internal repression as well as commercial purposes.  EU experts will draw up a list of banned goods at a later date.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's 13-month crackdown on the uprising, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.

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.
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.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
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 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 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 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.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
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 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle 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 '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 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.

VOA Blogs