News / Middle East

Syria's Homs Sees Heaviest Shelling in Days

Civilians flee fighting after Syrian army tanks enter northwestern city of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 14, 2012.
Civilians flee fighting after Syrian army tanks enter northwestern city of Idlib, Syria, Feb. 14, 2012.

Syrian rights activists say forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad have intensified an assault on the central opposition stronghold of Homs, as U.N. diplomats drafted a General Assembly resolution to denounce human rights violations by the Assad government.

The activists say Homs on Tuesday suffered one of the strongest shelling attacks since pro-Assad forces besieging the city began daily bombardments on February 4. They say government attacks killed at least six people in Homs and at least six others elsewhere in the country, including nearby Hama, where pro-Assad forces stormed into parts of the city.

Arab diplomats circulated the draft resolution accusing Syria of rights violations to U.N. General Assembly members on Tuesday. The document also calls on the Syrian government to stop its deadly crackdown on the 11-month opposition uprising against Assad's autocratic rule. The diplomats say the resolution is likely to be put to a vote on Thursday and receive broad support in the 193-nation body.

U.N. General Assembly resolutions are non-binding and cannot be vetoed. Russia and China vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution earlier this month, blocking the body from endorsing a Western and Arab-backed plan for President Assad to step aside as a way of ending the crisis.

.Syria Map

U.S. officials say President Barack Obama expressed disappointment with China's veto at a Tuesday meeting with visiting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping. At another Washington event attended by Xi, Vice President Joe Biden said the United States "strongly disagreed" with Beijing and Moscow for vetoing a resolution against what Biden called "unconscionable violence" by the Assad government.

China's official Xinhua news agency says Xi told Biden that Beijing's position on Syria is aimed at "safeguarding peace and stability in the Middle East" and is "in line with international principles." Both China and Russia have said the Security Council must not take sides in a domestic conflict or provide a pretext for foreign military intervention in Syria.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said Monday the Council's failure to act has "emboldened" Assad to try to "crush dissent with overwhelming force." She also said there is evidence of "crimes against humanity" by the Assad government. Syrian state media rejected that charge on Tuesday.

Syria's Local Coordination Committees opposition group described the latest shelling of Homs as "brutal." Witnesses say food and fuel are scarce and most shops remain shut due to relentless mortar and rocket fire that has trapped people in their homes.

The bombardment has focused on the rebel-held Sunni Muslim district of Baba Amr. Internet videos showed black smoke and flames as shells crashed into buildings. Activists say the 10-day government assault on Homs has killed hundreds of people.

Arab League diplomats say arming Syrian opposition forces is an option they are considering if diplomatic efforts fail. Smuggled weapons already are filtering into Syria, but it is not clear who is behind the deliveries. Iraqi officials have said Sunni Muslim insurgents also are moving from northern Iraq into Syria.

The United Nations said last month that violence linked to the uprising has killed more than 5,400 people. U.N. officials stopped updating the death toll in January, saying it was too difficult to obtain information. Rights groups say hundreds more people have been killed since then.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, 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.

You May Like

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid