- ‘I Am Alive’ app gains popularity in terror-ravaged Lebanon
- Gun giveaways gain popularity among Republican candidates
- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
Terrified Syrians pack up to flee capital
‘Matter of weeks’ to topple Assad
Fighting between rebels and Syrian forces intensified and spread across the capital of Damascus on Tuesday as diplomats scrambled to shore up a tough international response to the “civil war” ahead of a U.N. deadline for withdrawing observers.
Using helicopter gunships, Syrian forces beefed up their bid to crush the 16-month-old rebellion against President Bashar Assad, but were met with an influx of rebels on the third day of sustained clashes, including fighting near the parliament building.
The Free Syrian Army, a rebel force made up of soldiers who have deserted Mr. Assad, is bolstering its presence in the capital, according to two sources in Syria, who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals.
“It’s just a matter of weeks, not months” before the regime falls, said Mousab Azzawi, a doctor and London-based spokesman for the Syrian Network for Human Rights.
He said the rebel offensive has boxed the regime into a circle 7 miles in diameter in Damascus.
Terrified families fled the city or said they were prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Residents said they were packing “getaway bags” in case they had to run for their lives.
“My bag has my family’s passports, our university degrees, some cash and medicine,” a 57-year-old father of two told the Associated Press. He also asked for anonymity. “It is very hard to imagine leaving your home and everything you worked to get, but it’s a matter of life and death.”
Syrian activists say the international community must make it a priority to protect civilians in what the Red Cross has deemed a civil war. The United Nations estimates that up to 1.5 million people in Syria are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
At the United Nations, diplomatic battle lines have been drawn with Britain and Russia circulating competing drafts of resolutions to put pressure on Mr. Assad’s regime and end the conflict. A vote is expected Wednesday.
The Western-backed British draft calls for nonmilitary sanctions against the regime if Mr. Assad refuses to withdraw his troops and heavy weapons from population centers within 10 days. The proposed resolution is under the U.N. Charter’s Chapter VII, which allows the use of force to end the conflict. However, the United States and its Western allies are opposed to military intervention.
Russia objects to the use of military force, and its draft calls for the immediate implementation of U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which seeks a cease-fire followed by a political solution to the conflict. Mr. Annan’s plan so far has been a failure.
Britain is standing firm on the text of its resolution.
The text “hasn’t changed much, and not at all on the core issues of Chapter VII and the threat of sanctions,” a Western official said on background, citing the sensitive nature of the discussions.
Mr. Annan met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Tuesday in a bid to secure a compromise, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov indicated that Moscow is willing to seek a consensus.
“I don’t see a reason that we couldn’t agree in the Security Council. We are prepared for that,” Mr. Lavrov told the Interfax news agency. Russia has twice vetoed U.N. resolutions to step up pressure on the Assad regime.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Ashish Kumar Sen is a reporter covering foreign policy and international developments for The Washington Times.
Prior to joining The Times, Mr. Sen worked for publications in Asia and the Middle East. His work has appeared in a number of publications and online news sites including the British Broadcasting Corp., Asia Times Online and Outlook magazine.
- Amid clashes, White House nixes 'lethal' Ukraine aid
- U.S. rebukes Iran's U.N. envoy pick over 1979 embassy attack
- U.S. missing out on big opportunities in Africa, Liberian official says
- House follows Senate in passing bill to bar Iran's U.N. pick
- Obama admin unfairly pitting China against North Korea: diplomat
TWT Video Picks
By Joy Overbeck
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Obama taunts GOP, takes nationally televised victory lap on Obamacare
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- Atheists rush to stage Easter display: 'Jesus Christ is a myth'
- IRS emails reveal discussion with Justice about suing nonprofits for election activities
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.