News

UN: Syrian Heavy Weapons Still in Cities

United Nations observers traveling in U.N. vehicles leave a hotel in Damascus, May 1, 2012.
United Nations observers traveling in U.N. vehicles leave a hotel in Damascus, May 1, 2012.
Margaret Besheer

The U.N.’s peacekeeping chief said Tuesday that the Syrian government still has heavy weapons in cities, and that both the government and opposition have committed violations of a U.N.-brokered truce.

U.N. peacekeeping chief Hervé Ladsous says the 24 monitors already in Syria have reported heavy weapons are still in several cities - a violation of the peace deal brokered by U.N.-Arab League mediator Kofi Annan.

“Yes, our military observers do see a number of APCs [armored personnel carriers], for instance, they see a number of howitzers and other military equipment in most places where they are. It is being claimed the APCs have been disarmed, but that is not verified in all cases,” Ladsous said.

Ladsous said the level of violence has been “appalling” and urged both sides to respect the cessation of hostilities. He said the monitors have reported violations from both government forces and the opposition.

“I think the violations that are observed come from both sides. I would not establish ratio, I think now is perhaps not the time, since after all, we still have a limited number of observers in a limited number of localities. The fact is, I think politically, the important fact is, that violations do come from both sides,” Ladsous said.

On Monday, Syrian state media reported several attacks on government buildings in the northern city of Idlib, which killed mostly security forces, while the opposition reported that government bombings killed several civilians in Idlib on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is working to deploy the full monitoring mission. Ladsous said 24 observers are now in Syria and he expects that number to rise to rapidly, with the full deployment of about 300 to be in place by the end of May.

He acknowledged that the United Nations only has “solid” commitments from member states for half the force so far.  But despite the shortfall, he said he is confident to have the full 300 by the end of the month.

The mission faces other challenges, including the ability to move freely in Syria. Ladsous said the United Nations is still negotiating an agreement with Damascus regarding whose helicopters would be used - Syria’s or the U.N.’s - to ferry observers around the large country.

There are also security challenges. In a country where more than 9,000 people have died in the past 13 months, the observers are unarmed and beholden to the Syrian military for their protection, even when they enter areas controlled by the opposition. They also are operating in a country where a cessation of hostilities has been in name only.

The U.N. Security Council authorized the observer mission for an initial deployment of 90 days. The United States has said it may not vote to renew the mandate if there is not a sustained cessation of hostilities, full freedom of movement for the mission and real progress on the other points in Kofi Annan’s peace plan.

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