News / Middle East

Diplomats: 'Friends of Syria' May Demand Entry of Aid Within Days

In this Feb. 22, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, flames rise from a house from Syrian government shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province.
In this Feb. 22, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, flames rise from a house from Syrian government shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province.

Diplomats say a group of Western and Arab-led nations gathering in Tunis to discuss Syria's worsening unrest may issue a demand for Damascus to allow the delivery of foreign humanitarian aid to hard-hit areas within days.

The officials say participants in Friday's "Friends of Syria" meeting are likely to call on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to order an immediate stop to his crackdown on an 11-month uprising, so that the aid can be delivered. Representatives of more than 70 nations and international organizations will attend the gathering, among them U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Tunisia's presidential spokesman said Thursday his government will propose a peacekeeping force to resolve the Syrian crisis.

It is not clear if the Friends of Syria will announce any punitive measures in the event that Syria rejects their demands. Residents of the central Syrian city of Homs say food, water and medical supplies are running dangerously low after almost three weeks of relentless bombardment by pro-Assad forces surrounding the opposition protest hub.

Russia and China have said they will not attend the Tunis meeting. Both powers have repeatedly blocked the U.N. Security Council from taking action against the Syrian government, saying the Council should not take sides in a domestic conflict.

Speaking on a visit to London on Thursday, Clinton said Syrian opposition forces resisting the government crackdown "will somehow, somewhere find the means to defend themselves as well as [to] begin offensive measures," said Clinton. She did not elaborate further.

Speaking on a visit to London on Thursday, Clinton said Syrian opposition forces resisting the government crackdown "will somehow, somewhere find the means to defend themselves as well as [to] begin offensive measures," said Clinton. She did not elaborate further.

Rebels of the Free Syrian Army have been urging the international community to arm them, but Western and Arab nations have been reluctant to agree, fearing foreign military intervention could make the situation worse.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the Obama administration still supports a political resolution of the crisis. But, he said the Assad government's ongoing assault on the Syrian people is "heinous and unforgivable" and will require the United States to "evaluate" its approach "as time goes on."

Rights activists say at least 40 people were killed across Syria on Thursday, in attacks ranging from mountain villages to areas near Damascus. They say the dead include 13 members of an extended family attacked by security forces in a village in the central province of Hama. The casualty figures could not be independently confirmed.

In other developments on Thursday, U.N.-appointed investigators in Geneva said they have compiled a list of Syrian officers and officials suspected of ordering security forces to shoot unarmed protesters, torture detainees, and shell residential areas. The investigators said Syrian leaders "at the highest levels" should face investigation for crimes against humanity.

The U.N. panel said Free Syrian Army rebels also have committed abuses, including killings and abductions, "although not comparable in scale." In a report submitted to the U.N. Human Rights Council, the investigators estimated the death toll from the uprising at 6,400 civilians and 1,680 army defectors.

In earlier violence Wednesday, activists reported the killings of at least 74 people, including Marie Colvin, a prominent American war correspondent for Britain's Sunday Times newspaper, and French photojournalist Remi Ochlik. The two were killed and several other reporters were wounded when shells hit a makeshift media center in which they were staying in the Homs district of Baba Amr.

In a video posted online Thursday by opposition activists, wounded French reporter Edith Bouvier said she needs urgent medical attention and asked to be evacuated quickly from Homs. The Syrian government expressed condolences for the deaths of Colvin and Ochlik but denied responsibility, saying the journalists were in the country illegally. Syria does not permit foreign reporters to travel freely and has kept most of them out.

Watch related video

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

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies 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.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid