U.N.: Chemical weapons use must be punished
August 26th, 2013
01:35 AM ET

U.N.: Chemical weapons use must be punished

The use chemical weapons is a crime against humanity and must be punished, United Nations chief Ban Ki-Moon told journalists Monday in Seoul, South Korea.

Washington may be preparing to take on the role of the punisher, if reports the Syrian government used poison gas against civilians are verified.

U.N. inspectors on the ground in Syria may be close to doing that.

Full Story

Post by:
Filed under: Arab Spring • CNN Inside Syria • Iraq War • Military • Pentagon • Russia • Syria • U.S. Navy • War • World • World Update
June 18th, 2013
04:21 AM ET

New Syrian official touts political plan

Ali Haidar has a job title that may sound more like a pipe dream than an official post.

But Syria's new minister for national reconciliation said he believes the country can still unite for a political solution - even after two years of incessant bloodshed and more than 92,000 deaths.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's Frederik Pleitgen, Haidar said all parts of the Syrian government should be up for negotiation.

FULL STORY

Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
February 22nd, 2013
06:14 PM ET

Syrian group, citing 'shameful' international stance, says no to upcoming conference

The Syrian National Coalition, the country's principal opposition group, says it is suspending its participation in the upcoming Friends of Syria conference in Rome "in protest of the shameful international position."

After a missile shelling that killed dozens in Aleppo on Friday, the group said on its Facebook page that it "considers the international silence toward the crimes committed every day against our people is, in effect, participation in the ongoing slaughter for the last two years."


Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
Report: Syria claims right to 'surprise retaliation' against Israel
January 31st, 2013
10:40 AM ET

Report: Syria claims right to 'surprise retaliation' against Israel

Syria's has the right to a "surprise retaliation" after Israel's airstrike, its ambassador to Lebanon is quoted as saying, and Syria's foreign ministry has summoned the head of the United Nations mission in the Golan Heights over the attack, Syria's state news agency reports.

Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali said Israel's airstrike Wednesday was on a research center, according to the Hezbollah official website Moqawama.

A senior U.S. official on Wednesday, however, said Israeli jet fighters hit a Syrian convoy suspected of moving weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

It was not certain whether the U.S. and Syrian accounts referred to the same incidents.

FULL STORY
Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Israel • Syria • World
Syrian civil war in photos
January 29th, 2013
12:38 PM ET

Dozens of slain Syrians pulled from river

Dozens of people were found slain execution-style in bloody Syria Tuesday, yet another grisly act that opposition activists blame squarely on the government.

The corpses were of at least 81 men who were apparently executed. Residents found them in the Queiq River in the town of Bustan Al-Qasr, near Aleppo city, opposition activists said, and they were pulled from the river.

FULL STORY

Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
Syrian civil war in photos
January 11th, 2013
10:52 AM ET

No military solution for Syria, envoy says

U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said there is "no military solution" in Syria, after meeting with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov and U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns at the United Nations in Geneva.

Brahimi's statement came amid reports of the capture by rebels of a strategic northern Syria city, fresh fighting and a mounting refugees crisis in the country.

Read more: CNN Inside Syria

FULL STORY
Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
August 17th, 2012
05:00 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Caught in middle, people of Aleppo frantic for peace

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman, who used to live in Aleppo, has spent time over the past two weeks in the city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting. Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo. Read more from CNN inside Syria.

A building had been hit by an artillery round 15 minutes earlier. We're driving to see the damage and notice there isn't a rebel in sight.

But there are a lot of people.

They aren't political. They aren't fighters. But they are terrified.

We meet a man whose fifth-floor apartment had been hit. His living room had completely collapsed.

"I've done nothing to Bashar (al-Assad)," he says, his voice growing agitated. "I've never done anything against him. Why are they doing this to me?"

The man, like many others nearby, are caught in the firefight between government forces and rebels. You get the feeling that these people just want peace.

On the street below, a man approaches us and asks if we're with the regime or the revolution. We tell him neither.

"We're with neither either!" he exclaims. "We're caught in the middle and paying the price as these two sides fight it out."

The damaged homes are just the beginning. One day earlier we had seen a 12-year-old boy with his leg blown off.

Every day when reporting out of Syria, we talk about how many people have been killed each day. But they have names. They have ages. They are somebody's brother, someone's mother, someone's family.

For the living, their houses are shelled, they can't find food, they don’t have a job. All they can do is throw up their hands in exasperation. They don’t like the regime, but it's impossible for them to live under these circumstances. They are the innocent people, stuck in the middle, who will have to live with the consequences. And often they'll be the ones paying the highest price - with their lives. FULL POST

August 16th, 2012
07:18 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Nobody imagined it would turn into this

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman, who used to live in Aleppo, has spent time over the past two weeks in the city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting. Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo. Read more from CNN inside Syria.

What we saw during our trips in Aleppo were not images of the city I knew: The shelling, the snipers, the destruction. I never imagined this city would be standing in the middle of warfare. Nobody imagined it would turn into this.

Some parts of Aleppo are complete battle zones. Shells and rubble litter the streets. Cars are blown to pieces.

This beautiful city is where we raised my daughter for her first years from 1990 to 1993. When I was at work my wife went everywhere shopping with my daughter and going to markets.

As we drove quite close to the neighborhood where I used to live, one in government control, I took a quick look and noticed it looked mostly the same. I quickly refocused, concerned for our safety. A government checkpoint was coming up on the right. FULL POST

August 8th, 2012
07:10 PM ET

Two days in Aleppo: Snipers, temporary graveyards and stairwell beds

Editor's note: CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access of foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Wedeman spent two days this week in Aleppo, a city of more than 2 million people where rebels and government forces are fighting.

Below is an edited account of what Wedeman saw in Aleppo, including his harrowing trip into the city past snipers, street vendors selling their wares as bombs fall, and a lack of enthusiasm for the rebels' battle among many civilians.

The crack of sniper fire welcomed us into a rebel-held part of Aleppo.

Traveling through a back road on Monday, with six people crammed into a small car, we drove through government-controlled territory, bypassing a checkpoint and rolling right past the military intelligence headquarters. Vendors sold tea and coffee by the side of the road, with traffic fairly normal.

Traffic was noticeably less as we approached a rebel-held area, one neighborhood over from the Salaheddine neighborhood where fierce fighting has raged. As the car passed an intersection near a Free Syrian flag, three or four shots rang out, apparently at the vehicle.

No one was hurt, and once the vehicle passed the intersection, rebel fighters nearby shouted for the driver to stop.

“There's a sniper right there. What are you doing?” they said. The sniper apparently was part of the government's forces.

FULL POST

August 6th, 2012
04:14 PM ET

CNN inside Syria: Snipers, bombs - and sometimes open bakeries

In parts of Aleppo on Monday, snipers fired from roofs of buildings and artillery fire rang out, while other areas of the city are oddly normal.

CNN's Ben Wedeman and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry.

Check out more from CNN inside Syria

In the besieged Aleppo neighborhood of Salaheddin, Wedeman said drivers had to dodge piles of rubble in the streets. Residents evacuating to safer neighborhoods left their homes with all the belongings they could carry, he said.

An elderly man, carrying a briefcase and a bag full of jam, said he was leaving the neighborhood to move in with his daughter.

"What kind of leader does this to his own people?" the man said as he left his home. FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
July 31st, 2012
09:42 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: Firefight for control of army base

CNN's Ivan Watson has been traveling through northern Syria near Aleppo, where bloody battles have raged for more than a week for control of the country's largest city. Watson and the crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

What is the state of the rebel offensive and what are the rebels saying about their chances? Here's what Watson recently saw and heard from on the ground near Aleppo (edited for length and clarity):

With our eyewitness vantage point, we saw was a rebel offensive that started at sunset Friday night. The rebels attacked the last Syrian army checkpoint before the gates of Aleppo to the north of the city.

It was a firefight that lasted hours. And in the end the rebels overran this entrenched Syrian army position that had more than a dozen tanks. It had machine guns firing into the night sky in all directions hitting surrounding villages. (Watch more in the video above)

In the end, they overran it. And then we saw what they captured: a number of tanks, armored personnel carriers, ammunition, tank rounds. And this was not only a moral victory for the rebels but a strategic one because they now control the main exit point to the north between Aleppo, the biggest city in Syria, and the Turkish border. It's a crucial transit route. ...

Every rebel you talk to has friend, has comrades-in-arms who are inside Aleppo. FULL POST


Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
July 29th, 2012
05:29 PM ET

CNN's Ivan Watson inside Syria: Rebels attack army base

CNN’s Ivan Watson reported from northern Syria on Sunday, where he witnessed rebel fighters launch an offensive against a Syrian army base north of Aleppo.

“The offensive began around sunset, and we’ve been watching a constant stream of tracer fire emerging from the location where the Syrian army base is,” Watson said.

Aleppo is a key city in the ongoing battles between the Free Syrian Army and President Bashar Al-Assad’s regime. It has been embroiled in bloodshed since since rebels burned a police a station and spurred fights in the city Wednesday. In response, the Syrian government launched a violent offensive on Saturday.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
CNN inside Syria: A bloody mess could get messier
CNN's Ivan Watson reports from a battle-scarred Syrian town where the civilian population has fled.
July 27th, 2012
10:04 AM ET

CNN inside Syria: A bloody mess could get messier

As the months-long violence in Syria engulfs two key cities, Damascus and Aleppo, CNN's Ivan Watson has been traveling through villages in the area. He and the crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Below is an edited Q&A about what Watson has seen and heard in rebel-controlled towns near Aleppo:

CNN: We're hearing that one community in Syria - the ethnic Kurds - are beginning to take matters into their own hands. They're breaking with the regime. What are you seeing? What are the signs that this could impact the entire conflict?

WATSON: It could definitely complicate matters. The Kurds make up about 10 percent of the population, long-oppressed, even denied citizenship by the al-Assad regime. But they've largely sat out this uprising for about the past 16, 17 months. In the last week, we've seen one of the strongest of the Kurdish political factions, which is closely affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK, claiming control over a number of Kurdish communities. FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
July 27th, 2012
10:00 AM ET

Syrian rebels: Guns, mortars ... and mansions?

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

A distant machine gun rattled away in vain as a military helicopter flew long, slow circles, arcing from the contested Syrian city of Aleppo over to the rebel-controlled town of Anadan, six miles to the north.

A group of fighters stared and pointed from under the shelter of an overhanging building, until one man said in a worried tone, "Let's go away" before hurrying indoors.

In a matter of months, Syria's rebels have transformed themselves from ragtag village defense forces into an armed movement capable of attacking the country's two largest cities, Aleppo and Damascus. They have also punctured the image of invincibility projected by Syrian army tanks and armored personnel carriers, as proven by the twisted wreckage of armored vehicles that now litter some roads.

But the fighters still find themselves vastly out-gunned when facing government air power.

And yet, even that advantage may be shrinking.

Read the full story from CNN's Ivan Watson

Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria • World
July 25th, 2012
09:37 PM ET

Inside Syria: Foreign fighters join Syrian rebels in Aleppo battle

Editor’s note: Rebels over the past few days have battled Syrian government forces in the northwestern city of Aleppo, the country’s commercial capital. It's a stronghold of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and home to about 4 million people. The battle is part of a 16-month conflict in Syria that began elsewhere in the country when a fierce government crackdown on protesters morphed into a nationwide uprising against the regime.

CNN’s Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few Western reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is an edited account of what Watson has seen and been told in rebel-controlled towns near Aleppo on Wednesday:

People in every village in Aleppo province that CNN has visited say they’ve sent fighters to try to capture Aleppo. The bulk of the fighters are Syrian, but CNN has seen some foreigners among them.

There seems to be constant movement between these opposition-held enclaves and Aleppo, with some fighters leaving Aleppo to move their fallen comrades, and other, fresher fighters moving in. In the past two days, CNN’s crew has passed  two funerals in area villages for two rebel fighters who were killed in Aleppo.

The fighting in the region is having a visible effect on civilian life. Cars, trucks and vans loaded with civilians are leaving Aleppo. Some of those people earlier had left their villages to stay in Aleppo, because the city had been a safe haven until fighting began on Friday. But now some are going back to the villages they’d left.

Still, villages look increasingly deserted as you get closer to the big city. In the village of Injara, about 10 kilometers (a little over six miles) west of Aleppo, Sunni cleric Sheikh Ali Bukhro took CNN’s crew on a tour of the near-empty streets. He pointed out craters and holes in at least six stone houses, which he and residents said had been hit by rockets and artillery from a Syrian army base about four kilometers (2.5 miles) away.

“They hit us every night,” Bukhro said.

FULL POST

July 25th, 2012
08:41 AM ET

Inside Syria: Faces of the Free Syrian Army

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Rebel-controlled northern Syria (CNN) – Mohamed Rashid walked out of the gate of his house with a giant blood stain on his white T-shirt.

"This is the blood of a martyr! Of a hero! Of a lion!" he bellowed. "This is his blood. It is pure!"

Mad with grief, Rashid kissed his bloody T-shirt before being led away by worried relatives.

Just hours before, Rashid learned his son Abdul was killed in battle in the Syrian city of Aleppo.

Housam Abdul Rashid was a 22-year-old defector from the army. He was also the fourth man from his small hilltop village to be killed fighting for the rebels.

The younger Rashid is one of the casualties of the five-day-old rebel offensive on Aleppo, the country's commercial capital. Another rebel, who asked only to be named "Khorshid" because his wife and children were still living in Aleppo, described how his comrade was killed by a helicopter gunship, while climbing onto a rooftop.

"Housam's specialty was a sniper," Khorshid said. "He went to the roof, and a helicopter gunship killed him. Another fighter from Aleppo with him was also killed. I was just 4 meters away when it happened."

FULL STORY
July 24th, 2012
09:41 AM ET

Inside Syria: A Syrian town's 'Street of Death'

Editor's note: CNN's Ivan Watson and crew are some of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been restricting access on foreign journalists and refusing many of them entry. Check out more from CNN inside Syria.

Atareb, Syria (CNN) - After months of fighting, the regime's men finally abandoned this strategic crossroads.

President Bashar al Assad's troops left behind a bullet-riddled ghost town patrolled by rebels and a handful of shell-shocked residents.

Fighters had renamed the stretch of the Bab el Hawa highway, which ran through the center of town, the "Street of Death." Until recently, they said anyone who dared set foot on it became a target.

A mini-graveyard of burned-out armored personnel carriers sat next to the main municipal building, which served as a base for government soldiers. Several weeks after rebels captured the town, the building's walls were still decorated with pro-regime graffiti proclaiming frightening ultimatums: "Either Bashar or we'll burn this city" and "Bashar or nothing."

"This used to be a very classy area. ... The Turks would come here to see our village," said a fighter named Abdullah Behri, who was treated in a hospital in nearby Turkey after losing his left eye to shrapnel during a battle here last May.

"Now it has all turned to hell," he said, pointing at the town's deserted streets.

FULL STORY
Inside Syria: Activists risk lives to show world the death they see
Members of the Syrian opposition say one of their greatest weapons is using technology to show the world what is happening.
February 23rd, 2012
12:30 PM ET

Inside Syria: Activists risk lives to show world the death they see

Editor's note: Syrian forces are intensifying their bombardment of the Baba Amr neighborhood of Homs, a stronghold of the opposition. For those trapped in the area, there is the ever-present danger that the next shell will hit wherever they are trying to find shelter, or a sniper's bullet will kill them.

CNN's Arwa Damon, who was in Homs last week, saw the risks that opposition activists were taking minute-by-minute, when she went to their communications center. CNN's Ivan Watson also was able to get an inside look at a makeshift, rebel-run media operation helping to get the news and pictures out of Syria. Below are edited accounts of what they've seen and been told about how Syrians are trying to get their message out:

The weapons are different here. They come in the form of protest banners, videos and anti-government demonstrations. And they are images that are broadcast and streamed live online to the outside world.

Young men are among the activists that have kept the Syrian uprising alive by using technology in the face of a government crackdown that's left thousands dead.

The Syrian regime says they are facing a barrage of attacks from armed terrorists. They are fighting back, but these revolutionaries insist they don't need guns.

"I don't need Kalashnikov. I need just this [holds up camera] and laptop and media," Shaheb Sumac tells Watson.

They arm themselves with these pieces of technology and a whole lot of bravery. They show CNN footage they've shot secretly.

And then they distribute them across Syria and throughout the world. This amateur footage has served as a lifeline into life in Syria as it has become an important source of information for news organizations, including CNN, which are barred from freely working inside the country.

At first glance, the media operation appears like a grungy Middle Eastern university dorm room. But in their eyes, these men are media warriors.

"We are fighting a war against the regime's media channels," Alaa Edien Hamdoun, the group's leader, tells Watson. Even though we're working for free with few resources ... we are winning against them ... because we are servants of our revolution who are demanding freedom."

FULL POST

February 21st, 2012
01:40 PM ET

Inside Syria: 'I can guarantee ... people will starve to death'

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon recently spent some time in Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment for more than two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.

Damon was one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is the latest in a string of edited accounts of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:

Virtually no food has come into Baba Amr since the shelling began more than two weeks ago, activists say. So, the residents who are gathered in makeshift bunkers collect what food they can find there and carefully ration it though those supplies are running out.

Some of what they’ve gathered comes from, among other places, stores that have been hit by artillery fire.

“We take the products to distribute so they don’t go to waste. We keep track of everything we took to reimburse the owners,” an activist says.

FULL POST

February 20th, 2012
11:11 AM ET

Inside Syria: 'What is the world waiting for? For us to die of hunger and fear?'

Editor's note: CNN correspondent Arwa Damon reported from Baba Amr, a neighborhood in Homs, Syria, a city that has been a flashpoint in a months-long uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. Government forces have shelled parts of the city  especially Baba Amr, a bastion of anti-government sentiment for two weeks, damaging houses and other buildings and leaving many dead and wounded.

Damon is one of the few international reporters in Syria, whose government has been placing restrictions on journalists and refusing many of them entry. Below is an edited account of what Damon and her team saw and heard from activists in Homs:

This small hall was once filled with laughter. Marriages took place here. Now the echoing sounds are not of joy, but of tragedy.

In this makeshift bunker, some of the families of Baba Amr who have nowhere else to go huddle. But, it offers them very little comfort.

"We're not sleeping at night, we're not sleeping during the day," a man named Ilham howls. "The children are always crying, the bombs are coming down."

Often they huddle in near darkness.

Some cover their faces, still afraid of the government's relentless shelling. They are afraid, they said, they might lose more than they already have. Conditions here are desperate

In hard-hit Baba Amr, about 350 people who've fled their homes out of fear or necessity are living in the makeshift bunker.

Restricted by seemingly constant shelling and gunfire outside, they don't have any medicine, let alone the ability to get to a hospital. Children are getting sick, and one woman recently gave birth there. They have little food  some lentils and rice and a little bread.

They fled here either because their homes were destroyed by shelling, or because the firing was getting too close.

FULL POST

Post by:
Filed under: CNN Inside Syria • Syria
« older posts