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:

Conflict in Syria Escalates, Violence and Casualties Mounti
|| 0:00:00
X
June 20, 2012 10:13 PM
The conflict in Syria continues to escalate. Violence and casualties are mounting as both sides use more powerful weapons and employ new tactics on the battlefield. Military analysts say rebel groups are becoming more effective in their fight against government forces as we hear in this background report from Meredith Buel in Washington.

You May Like

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms 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.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid