News / Middle East

Syrian Activists Say Dozens of Bodies Found in River

Free Syrian Army fighters and residents attempt to identify bodies found along a river, at a school used as a field hospital in Aleppo, Syria, January 29, 2013
Free Syrian Army fighters and residents attempt to identify bodies found along a river, at a school used as a field hospital in Aleppo, Syria, January 29, 2013
Syrian opposition activists say the bodies of at least 65 people apparently shot in the head have been found in a river in the northern city of Aleppo.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights posted videos on the Internet on Tuesday, showing dozens of muddied bodies that it says were dragged out of the Queweik river in Aleppo's Bustan al-Qasr district.

Most of the dead appear to be young men in civilian clothes, with gunshot wounds to the head and their hands tied.

The Observatory said it was not clear who carried out the killings. Syrian government and rebel forces both have been accused by rights groups of committing atrocities in the country's civil war.  

Activists also said Free Syrian Army rebels and Islamist militants captured a government security compound in the northeastern town of Deir el-Zour on Tuesday, freeing several prisoners after days of heavy fighting.

They said the rebel advance in the oil-rich Syrian region triggered retaliatory air strikes by the government.

There was no government confirmation of the rebel claim.

  • A girl waves the revolutionary Syrian flag during a protest against President Bashar al-Assad in front of the Syrian embassy to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the 1982 Hama massacre, in Amman, Jordan, February 1, 2013.
  • Dutch student Wijbe Abma, 21, right, has raised more than $17,000 to buy warm blankets for the Syrian refugees, delivering the aid through local activists and rebel groups.
  • Anti-Syrian regime protesters flash the victory sign as they hold a banner during a demonstration, at Kafr Nabil town, in Idlib province, northern Syria, February 1, 2013.
  • Syrian citizens pray over the bodies of those who were found dead next to a river last Tuesday and who were not identified by their relatives, in Aleppo, Syria on January 31, 2013.
  • The bodies of dozens of men, many of them with their hands bound behind their backs, were found on the muddy banks of a small river January 29, 2013 in the northern city of Aleppo.
  • Relatives and Free Syrian Army fighters bury the body of Ammar Al-Achaqer, who activists said was killed by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, near Homs, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
  • An internally displaced boy looks out of a school at a village outside Damascus, January 28, 2013.
  • This image taken from video shows a Free Syrian Army fighter speaking in front of a government intelligence complex in Deir el-Zour, Syria, January 29, 2013. (Ugarit News)
  • A Free Syrian Army soldier flashes the victory sign as damage caused by warplanes and rocket launchers is seen at background in Hama, Syria, January 28, 2013. Image taken from video.
  • Syrian refugees search for their belongings at a burned tent at the Al Zaatari Syrian refugee camp, January 28, 2013.

The U.N. refugee agency said Tuesday the number of Syrian refugees who have fled the conflict into neighboring countries has risen to 700,000.

Speaking in Geneva, UNHCR spokeswoman Sybella Wilkes said the figure includes Syrians already registered as refugees and those awaiting processing in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq. She said aid workers are struggling to cope with the exodus and trying to clear the backlog.

Jordan has seen the biggest influx of refugees, with tens of thousands arriving in the past month.

International donors made pledges of more humanitarian assistance for Syria on Tuesday, a day before joining a U.N. aid conference in Kuwait.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Washington will provide $155 million to help Syrians make it through the winter. He said the aid will include warm clothes for children, medicine for the elderly, flour and wheat for families and blankets, boots and stoves for people huddling in damaged buildings.

The new pledge raises the total U.S. aid commitment to $365 million, making Washington the largest donor of humanitarian supplies to Syria.  

"The relief we send doesn't say 'Made in America,' but make no mistake - our aid reflects the commitment of the American people," Obama said. "American aid means food and clean water for millions of Syrians. American aid means medicine and treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients in Damascus, Daraa and Homs. It means immunizations for one million Syrian children. American aid means winter supplies for more than half a million people in Aleppo, Homs and Deir el-Zour. And we are working with allies and partners so that this aid reaches those in need."

EU humanitarian commissioner Kristalina Georgieva said the 27-nation bloc will double its pledges for Syria to about $270 million. She said the aid is "desperately needed" by Syrian people who are "cold, hungry and scared."

In another pledge, an international group of 77 Islamic charities said it will provide $182 million of aid to Syrians affected by the conflict. The non-governmental International Islamic Charitable Organization (IICO) made the announcement after meeting in Kuwait on Tuesday.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon discussed Syria's humanitarian crisis with his Arab League counterpart Nabil Elaraby ahead of the donor conference. A U.N. statement said both men called for an "immediate end to the bloodshed and suffering" of the Syrian people and expressed concern about what they called a "dangerous spill-over" of the conflict in neighboring states.

Deaths in Syria from ongoing conflict

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Taiwan President Sounds Warning on Future of China Ties

Current Taiwan government has eased once dangerously tough relations with Beijing since 2008, but next year’s presidential election could change that course More

US Presidential Candidates Woo Hispanic Voters

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton reached out to Hispanic voters this past week in a bid to boost their voter support More

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Documentary is a close-up and personal view of young woman who has become of global symbol of courage and inspiration More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
January 30, 2013 12:29 AM
Goes to show how much the Syrians care about one another to free them from brutal torture jails. Many detained are regular civilians, or those who oppose Bashar. Rather than go right for Bashar they feel the need to help their own Nation before chasing down Bashar.

by: bill collins from: Tampa , USA
January 29, 2013 8:11 PM
all of the arabic countries and the UN as well as the USA
and Russia are to be blamed for the terrible inactivity and failure
to bring in boots to stop the madness in syria ! it has been a ruined country a long time ago since the civil war had started.
Shame on all of us ! we spend money to help people but not
being able to stop the war and bring assad to trial is way
beyond my beliefs in this stupid world ! it is a very sad world
we live in.

by: Davis Thanjan
January 29, 2013 7:05 PM
I am not a Moslem. But I am proud of the International Islamic Charitable Organization for the contribution of $182 million for the Syrians affected by the conflict.

by: Basam Shaqha from: Syria
January 29, 2013 3:01 PM
many of the dead are Iranians not Syrians.

by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
January 29, 2013 1:50 PM
It is good to see that the world is not only taking stock of the horrendous sit, that Syrian civilians face, but it is also gathering resources to actually alleviate the suffering; the aid needs to be provided, like yesterday. The US/Contributors need to ensure that the aid is provided to all the needy, and that groups providing the aid, to the needy, do not discriminate against any ethnic/religeous group. Past conflicts have seen issues of discrimination in distribution of aid, I hope this is well monitored and not allowed to occurr; all sides are needy and suffering this terrible civil war.

by: Valery from: France
January 29, 2013 11:53 AM
I agree with Maxim. Israel feel very protective towards its neighbors (even if its neighbors are despicable villains) and will not view kindly any foreign armies muscle in on a wounded neighbor... i do not want France to connive with turkey and destroy Syria.

by: Maxim from: France
January 29, 2013 10:39 AM
Israel question "West's" military intervention through Lebanon and Turkey into Syria. Now, if Israel view with great skepticism a collusion between French and Turkish military intervention in Syria, maybe the "West" should take notice...

by: Michael from: USA
January 29, 2013 8:51 AM
Syria's infrastructure has been destroyed, when someone outside the country knows this fact, it becomes data we can use. If the infrastructure is in an unknown condition, the lack of data, is like a divided trench that prevents reconstruction in the future. So, at least activists are on the right track by reporting information about the infrastructure

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs