Syrian Uprising Reaches One Year As Government Presses Offensive

Posted March 15th, 2012 at 3:50 am (UTC-5)
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Thursday marks the one-year anniversary of the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, which has shown no signs of slowing its offensive in cities that have been key hubs of the opposition.

Pro-Assad forces overran most of the northern city of Idlib on Wednesday, while the military launched its biggest raid in months on the southern city of Daraa – the town rebels call “the birthplace of our revolution.”

Meanwhile, the international community continues to push for a halt to the violence in Syria, but has been unable to find a solution to the crisis.

Amin Saikal, the director of the Center of Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University, told VOA he does not expect a resolution any time soon.

“The international community, and more specifically the United Nations Security Council, is paralyzed on the basis of the Russian and Chinese opposition to adopt a position whereby greater pressure could be exerted on Assad's regime.”

A group of 200 non-governmental organizations is teaming with celebrities and activists in a campaign Thursday to push for greater action. The initiative called Unite For Syria is using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to highlight calls for a Security Council resolution, support for U.N.-Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan and humanitarian access to all areas in Syria.

Annan, the former U.N. chief, is scheduled to brief the Security Council Friday. His spokesman said Mr. Assad's government has responded to his overtures to end the crisis, but that questions remain.

Council diplomats say Annan's assessment will be crucial to a bid by the United States and its European allies to pass a U.N. resolution that would ensure humanitarian aid workers have access to besieged towns across the country. Russia and China have twice vetoed resolutions condemning Mr. Assad's government.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency said Thursday that Syrians across the country would gather to show their loyalty to the nation.

U.N. officials estimate that 8,000 people have died in the year-long series of protests and government crackdown. The Syrian government blames the unrest on “terrorists” and outside agitators.