News

    Ex-UN Chief to Meet With Syria's Assad

    Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, attends a news conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al Araby [not shown] at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, March 8, 2012.
    Kofi Annan, the UN-Arab League Special Envoy on Syria, attends a news conference with Arab League Secretary-General Nabil Al Araby [not shown] at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, Egypt, March 8, 2012.

    The former head of the United Nations will meet with Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in an attempt to end the ongoing violence in the Middle Eastern country.

    The U.N. said Friday that former secretary-general Kofi Annan will meet the Syrian leader Saturday during a stop in Damascus. Annan is going to the meeting as the new U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria. He has been calling for a political solution to the crisis, warning attempts to arm rebel forces will only make the situation worse.  

    Word of the high-level meeting comes just hours after the U.N.'s top humanitarian official said Syria is refusing "unhindered" access for humanitarian aid.

    U.N. humanitarian chief Valerie Amos told reporters in Ankara on Friday that Syrian officials "asked for more time" to consider a deal that would allow the U.N. to help the victims of the ongoing government crackdown on dissent. She said Syrian officials agreed to a "limited assessment exercise" to get some information about the plight of those affected by the violence.  

    Amos spoke after touring refugee camps along the Turkish-Syrian border, where at least 11,000 Syrians have sought refuge in the nearly year-long uprising.

    Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti
    Note: VOA has revised its figures based on information complied by UNOSAT via death toll figures from Syrianshuhada.com and the Violations Documenting Center. This change reflects a shift in the numbers. Because of the difficulty of monitoring and reporti

    Homs is killing ground

    Syrian opposition groups said Friday at least 31 people died as thousands took to the streets across the country to rally against the Assad government. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most of the deaths occurred in Homs, the city that has been a focus of the government crackdown.

    Amos told reporters that she was devastated by what she saw during her recent visit to the Baba Amr district of Homs, which has seen some of the most brutal fighting. She said, "there are no people left, those that I saw were claiming their possessions, and it is important to know what has happened to those people."

    Despite the continued bloodshed, China is voicing support for Annan's mission, saying it hopes that "impartial mediation" can result in peace talks. China, along with Russia, has twice vetoed U.N. Security Council proposals that would have put pressure on Assad to end the conflict.

    Underscoring the divide on Syria, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Friday that Washington is "not overly optimistic" world powers will ever agree on a Security Council resolution condemning Syria's violent crackdown.

    However, some foreign diplomats say the end of the Assad government may be in sight. Syria's deputy oil minister announced Thursday that he was joining the opposition.

    German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said Friday that "the collapse of the Assad regime has started and will continue. No country can be led with atrocity and oppression."    
    His comments came as Turkey's state-run Anatolia news agency reported high-ranking military officers had defected and arrived in Turkey.  Anatolia quoted officials as saying at least two Syrian generals have crossed into Turkey since Thursday, along with several other officers and refugees.


    Cracks appear in Assad regime

    A White House spokesman said that, if true, "those defections are a courageous step by members of the regime, demonstrating their loyalty to and support for the Syrian people and their aspirations." He said the defections would be a "sign that there are significant cracks in the Assad regime."

    There are also new calls to help arm the Syrian opposition.  

    U.S. Senator John McCain accused Russia and Iran of fueling the bloodshed by providing the Syrian military with weapons. He told Alhurra TV on Thursday that the United States and other countries should use air power to take out the military's defenses.

    The U.N. estimates that Syrian forces have killed more than 7,500 people since the anti-Assad uprising began a year ago. The government blames "terrorists" for the unrest, saying that 2,000 of its security forces have been killed in the conflict.

    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.
    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.
    Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Processi
    X
    Katherine Gypson
    July 27, 2016 6:21 PM
    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora