News / Middle East

UN Observers Enter Battered Syrian Town

A UN observer photographs an ambulance that was destroyed after a car bomb exploded near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2012.A UN observer photographs an ambulance that was destroyed after a car bomb exploded near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2012.
x
A UN observer photographs an ambulance that was destroyed after a car bomb exploded near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2012.
A UN observer photographs an ambulance that was destroyed after a car bomb exploded near the shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, June 14, 2012.
VOA News
United Nations observers arrived in the Syrian town of al-Haffeh Thursday after government forces overran the opposition enclave, while Syria's envoy to Moscow denied that Russia is supplying Syria with attack helicopters.

The U.N. monitors had been trying to enter al-Haffeh after several days of intense clashes. They found the Sunni Muslim town nearly deserted, with state buildings burnt, shops abandoned and a corpse lying in the street.  

Syrian authorities on Wednesday said they had "cleansed" the area of armed terrorist groups.  On Tuesday, a mob outside the town had attacked the U.N. observers' vehicles with rocks and metal rods, forcing them to turn back.

Anti-government rebels pulled out of the town this week, and joined the United States in warning that some of the people remaining in al-Haffeh could be subject to reprisal killings.

Violence continued elsewhere in Syria on Thursday. Reuters news agency reported Syrian forces fired heavy artillery on the eastern city of Deir el-Zour, killing at least 11 people and wounding about 200. Opposition sources said Free Syrian Army fighters have killed dozens of troops and destroyed several tanks and armored personnel carriers there in the past week.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosives-packed van in a Damascus suburb, wounding 14 people and damaging one of Shi'ite Islam's holiest shrines. Government troops continued to pound rebel-held areas in the central city of Homs and other areas.

Meanwhile, the Syrian ambassador to Russia denied U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's remark that Moscow is shipping attack helicopters to his country. Riyad Haddad said the arms deliveries are defensive weapons. He blamed Western countries for any failures of international envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan.

Rafif Jouejati, a spokeswoman for the Local Coordination Committees, an activist group with members throughout Syria, said that helicopter strikes and other aerial attacks by government forces have been occurring for months across Syria.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Thursday his country does not approve of using sanctions to address the crisis in Syria.

"Under the current circumstances, all the parties should continue to vigorously support U.N. envoy Kofi Annan's mediation efforts," said Liu.  "We urge relevant parties in Syria to effectively implement relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions and Annan's six-point proposals, actively cooperate with the U.N. monitors, end any form of violence, protect civilians, and ease the current tense situation as soon as possible.''

Amnesty International says it has new evidence of widespread and systematic rights violations by government forces seeking to punish those supporting the opposition.

The group says its workers witnessed Syrian security forces firing on peaceful demonstrators late last month in Aleppo, and that families described soldiers dragging away family members and killing them.

Donatella Rovera, Amnesty International's senior crisis adviser, said the U.N. Security Council has failed, and called for "concrete action" to hold those responsible accountable.

"We are now facing a situation which has deteriorated so much precisely because of the failure of the Security Council to act earlier on when the situation was, when it was more possible to avoid the kind of large scale killings and massacres that we're seeing today," said Rovera.

The rights group said it has received reports of more than 10,000 people being killed since the crisis in Syria began in February 2011, and that the number could be much higher.

Related video report by Meredith Buel:

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More