News

    Intense Fighting Rocks Syrian Capital

    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, damaged apartments are seen after a clashes between the Syrian rebels and the Security forces, in the Mazzeh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, on Monday, March 19, 2012.
    In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, damaged apartments are seen after a clashes between the Syrian rebels and the Security forces, in the Mazzeh neighborhood of Damascus, Syria, on Monday, March 19, 2012.

    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
    Syrian rebels have staged a rare incursion into an upscale area of Damascus, triggering a deadly exchange of gunfire with forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

    The Syrian state news agency, SANA, says two rebels and a security force member were killed in Monday's pre-dawn battle that frightened residents of the Mazzeh neighborhood, which is home to embassies and senior government officials.

    It was the closest fighting to the center of Damascus since the start of Syria's year-long opposition uprising against President Assad's autocratic rule.

    SANA says the fighting began when security forces stormed a Mazzeh apartment used as a hideout by what it called an "armed terrorist" group.  Syrian authorities say the uprising is driven by terrorist gangs carrying out a foreign conspiracy to topple President Assad.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several "armed groups of defectors" entered Mazzeh from outlying areas of Damascus and fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the house of an army brigadier general.  It said the ensuing battle killed at least three rebels and wounded 18 government soldiers.

    There was no independent confirmation of the casualties or how the Damascus fighting started.  But, it was a show of force by the rebels after pro-Assad troops recently drove them out of opposition strongholds in the central city of Homs and the northern city of Idlib.

    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan addresses media (March 13, 2012 file photo)
    UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan addresses media (March 13, 2012 file photo)

    Russia said Monday the Syrian government and its armed opponents should immediately start observing daily humanitarian truces to enable the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians and treat the wounded in areas affected by fighting.

    The Russian government made the statement after ICRC president Jakob Kellenberger met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.  Kellenberger made the trip to urge Russia to use its influence as a Syrian ally to press the Assad government to lay down its arms for several hours a day.

    Arab League mission

    The U.N.-Arab League special envoy for Syria, Kofi Annan, sent a five-member team to Damascus on Sunday to begin talks with Syrian officials on implementing his plan for ending the country's conflict.  A spokesman for Annan says the international experts will stay in Syria as long as they are making progress in reaching agreements on a cease-fire between the government and the rebels and starting a national dialogue.

    France proposed a U.N. Security Council statement expressing full support for the work of Annan and his team. Diplomats said Western powers backing the draft presidential statement hope it will be adopted on Tuesday.

    In other developments on Monday, witnesses and activists said Syrian government troops and tanks carried out raids in the eastern region of Deir al-Zor and the northern region of Idlib to try to drive out rebels of the Free Syrian Army.

    The United Nations says at least 8,000 people have been killed in the Assad government's violent crackdown on the revolt, which began with peaceful protests and became increasingly militarized as army defectors attacked pro-Assad troops who assaulted civilians.

    Watch related video

    Some information for this report was provided by 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.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Plain Mirror
    March 19, 2012 2:37 PM
    The violent bell is ringing on the head of Syria today just as it rang months before now on other Arab and African countries. What is the rythym of this sound if one may ask? Simply "demonic craziness" called democracy. Who is behind all these? ... another question. The top most gang stars called EUROPIAN UNION. The foremen... , Obama and Sarkozy.

    by: Well wisher to the Syrian people
    March 19, 2012 12:44 PM
    Sad, very sad to see such wanton destruction allowed to continue without any form of reprimand to the culprit. It's inevitable for change to come to Syria, like it did come to the other Arab countries with the youth revolting. Its a matter of time for Syrians to take back their country, when they do they will make the leader understand the kind of damage he was inflicting on the Syrian people. There is always payback, and it comes when it is most inconvenient.

    by: Hassan
    March 19, 2012 8:51 AM
    This shows that the Syrian civil war has reached Damascus. Assad’s opponents know if they stop fighting for democracy in Syria, Assad will eventually kill them all. So for the Syrian freedom fighters it is victory or death. Syria’s economy will eventually collapse under the current conditions. It’s best that Assad and his aides leave Syria before they face the same ending like Gadhafi. Entities in the Syrian administration need to negotiate a transitional government while the opportunity exists.

    by: Ogbe Best Augustine
    March 19, 2012 7:06 AM
    I want to commend Voice of America (VOA) for full coverage of African news and developments especially in the political affairs.One of the most appreciated programme of this broadcasting station is 'day break Africa'. Every day, I do wake up day break africa.

    by: aet.gvisan@gmail.com
    March 19, 2012 5:52 AM
    When I was in Romania, under the boots of communists, we listen and respected Voice of America.

    Now , American and Western media is in the hands of liars and conspirators.

    Romanian anticommunist Revolution was stolen by communists in bed with the new world order conspirators who destroyed the country. Communist crimes are forgotten .

    The new world order conspirators did the same thing with Lybia and Irak, etc., and they planned to do the same with Syria.

    by: PJ
    March 19, 2012 4:07 AM
    Most know their al-Qaeda insurgents we pay to be there.
    If you want to keep up your lies and continue to make a fool out of yourself then fine.
    You the writer, you are supposed to be giving us the news, not propaganda!
    And you, employees of the people should be ashamed of yourselves and your heritage!
    You think you clever, sneaky and devious in your ways. All the while not having a single mandate to do any of this! Simply disgusting behaviour indeed!

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    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 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 Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    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.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora