Syria struggles with internal conflict
Updated: 2012-08-31 09:42
Syrian men walk through damaged shops in the old souk of Homs in the northern city of Syria August 30, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]
DAMASCUS - Syria, while struggling with rampant violence on ground, has also emerged as a dividing point in the international community that has so far failed to truly contribute a solution to the troubled Arab state.
The violence, which has engulfed Syria over the past year and a half, does not seem to be backing off, but on the contrary, it is still gaining momentum and bringing new dim details that were once unthinkable to ever occur in the tightly controlled state.
Two explosions rocked suburbs of the capital Damascus Thursday. The first blast was caused by a booby-trapped car that went off in Jaramana suburb, leaving the driver and his daughter injured, while the other occurred after explosive device tore through the Dahiyet al-Assad suburb, reportedly killing two people. Yet the official media brought nothing up about it.
Other suburbs around Damascus have also been subject to violent clashes between the Syrian troops and the armed rebels, who are showing unwavering resolve to keep the capital rattled with fear and uncertainty.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that as many as 80 people had been killed on Thursday alone nationwide, 49 of whom were unarmed civilians.
Other activists' groups claimed that the armed insurgent groups had managed to down a military fighter jet in the northwestern province of Idlib Thursday morning. Syria's state-media did not leave a comment, but the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV cited what it called a Syrian security source as refuting the claims.
Despite the unconfirmed reports by activists, the severity of the situation could be sensed via the sounds of the mortar shells and different sounds of firing echoing from the suburbs, which are adjacent to areas inside the capital itself.
Local media said the army had made gains in its fighting against the armed insurgents in several areas across the country, mainly in the countryside of Damascus and the northern province of Aleppo, Syria's largest city and commercial hub that has been a recent stage for pitch battles between the conflicting sides in Syria amid reports that new groups have joined the fighting against the Syrian troops, which are the Jihadists.
While the daily grind of violence is incessant, external attempts to solve the Syrian crisis have so far done little to stem the bloodletting for good.
In Tehran Thursday, the summit of the 120-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) kicked off its meeting, which has been quickly marked with convulsions between the Egyptian leadership and the Syrian delegation.
Iran has said that it would propose a new initiative for Syria that aims at bring the ongoing civil conflict to a close, however, Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi gave a blistering speech, in which he branded the Syrian government as "oppressive" and said that bloodshed in Syria would only end if there were "effective interference" from outside, a remark that raised ire of the Syrian delegation, prompting them to angrily walk out of the conference room, leaving Morsi rumbling with talks of democracies and freedoms.
After storming out of the meeting in protest, Syria Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said Morsi's speech incites more bloodshed in Syria and regarded it as an intervention in the Syrian affairs, which runs counter to the norms and traditions of the NAM.
Morsi has recently proposed that Iran take part in a four- nation contact group including Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia that would mediate in the Syrian crisis.
As the NAM summit is underway, Britain and French officials said Thursday that their countries are open to all options on Syria.
Speaking ahead of the UN Security Council on the humanitarian situation in Syria on Thursday, Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague said that the Turkish proposal for imposing buffer zones in Syria requires military intervention. "So there are considerable difficulties with such an idea, but we are not ruling out any options for the future," he said.
French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian has recently cautioned that closing Syria's airspace entirely would be tantamount to "going to war" but he urged the international community to consider backing a no-fly zone over parts of the unrest-torn country.
Talks of imposing a no-fly zone or a ground buffer zone in Syria have been put on the table allegedly to find a solution and to protect thousands of people fleeing the violence.
The United Nations refugee agency said Thursday that more than 220,000 people had fled Syria to seek safety and security in neighboring countries, and the refugees' "number is rapidly growing."
The UN also said Thursday that over 2.5 million people are "in great need" of humanitarian assistance and protection inside Syria, and their "most pressing need" is water, sanitation, food, shelter, blankets and health care.
A day earlier, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said that talks about imposing buffer zones in Syria is "unrealistic" and "doesn't exist virtually."
Assad told the pro-government Addounia TV that "I think the talks about buffer zones are firstly non-existent virtually and secondly unrealistic even for the countries that are playing the role of the hostile or the adversary."
Assad said the situation in Syria is "practically better" and the military showdown "needs time," adding the military and security forces are carrying on "heroic acts in every sense of the word."
"We're fighting a regional and global battle and must have more time to resolve (it)," he said.
Meanwhile, Syrian Prime Minister Wael al-Halki said Thursday on the sidelines of the Tehran summit that his country is subject to an "organized terrorism" backed by the United States, the European Union, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.
Halki said the situation in Syria is an important issue discussed at the NAM summit, to which "we look with much optimism. "