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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants 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.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs