Syria accused of war crimes, rebels kill 15

BEIRUT Wed May 2, 2012 10:42am EDT

1 of 4. A view of the damage at the site where two bombs detonated near state buildings in the northern city of Idlib in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA on April 30, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout

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BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian rebels killed 15 members of the security forces in an ambush on Wednesday, a monitoring group said, and a human rights organization accused Damascus of war crimes in last month's run-up to a U.N.-brokered truce.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has been tracking the 14-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, said two rebel militiamen also died in clashes that followed the ambush in the northern province of Aleppo.

State media carried no news of the attack, the latest in a series of heavy losses inflicted on pro-Assad forces in the last week by some of the disparate militias fighting for his downfall.

Twelve soldiers died in a firefight in the eastern town of Deir al-Zor on Tuesday, the Observatory said, and nine people, including security officials, died in twin suicide bombs in the restive town of Idlib on Monday, according to state media.

Most independent media are barred from Syria or have their movements restricted, making it hard to verify such reports.

The United Nations says Syrian forces have killed 9,000 people in a violent crackdown on mass protests that started against Assad in March 2011. The initially peaceful demonstrations have since turned into a bloody guerrilla insurgency.

Damascus says 2,600 personnel have been killed by "armed terrorists". Since a U.N.-backed ceasefire came into effect on April 12, it has cited rebel assaults as justification of its right to respond to "any violation or attack".

The United Nations now has 30 blue-helmeted monitors inside the nation of 23 million people, and this week accused both pro- and anti-Assad forces of violating the three-week-old truce.

On Tuesday it said it had credible reports of at least 34 children killed since the ceasefire came into effect.

Meanwhile, state media said "terrorist" groups had assassinated two soldiers in southern Deraa province, and the official SANA agency reported the funeral of eight soldiers and policemen killed "in the line of duty".

"WAR CRIMES"

The truce brokered by former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has led to a small reduction in the daily carnage, especially in cities were monitors are deployed permanently.

However, New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) accused government forces of going on a killing spree in opposition areas as officials in Damascus were sitting down with Annan to negotiate the terms of the truce in March and early April.

In assaults on the northern province of Idlib, troops killed at least 95 civilians - many of them executed in cold blood - and destroyed hundreds of homes, HRW said in a report that accused Damascus of war crimes.

"Everywhere we went, we saw burnt and destroyed houses, shops and cars, and heard from people whose relatives were killed. It was as if the Syrian government forces used every minute before the ceasefire to cause harm," senior HRW researcher Anna Neistat said.

Damascus has not commented on the report. It accuses foreign-backed armed groups of being behind the violence - a view likely to intensify after comments made by senior U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman in neighboring Lebanon.

Lieberman, chair of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, said he had asked Qatar and Saudi Arabia - previous stops on a four-nation Middle East tour - to "help these people in Syria who are fighting for their own freedom".

ARMY AMNESTY

Syria is also gearing up for multi-party elections on May 7 - part of a political reform package agreed to by Assad as a gesture towards those who want an end to his family's four-decade grip on power.

And in an apparent concession to the thousands of Syrians who have avoided military service since the violence began, Assad announced an amnesty for draft-dodgers.

Western states do not set much faith in either the ceasefire or reform process.

Paris has called for U.N. sanctions, but the West can do little given the diplomatic cover Syria enjoys at the Security Council from China and Russia.

Moscow says the rebels are mainly to blame for the continued violence and issued a statement on Wednesday condemning "terrorists" for "a large-scale campaign to destabilize the situation and disrupt ... Annan's plan".

Western states are wary of military intervention along the lines of last year's air campaign that helped topple Libya's Muammar Gaddafi because of the greater diplomatic and military complexities of tackling Syria, as well as the potential spillover effects on a volatile Middle Eastern neighborhood.

(Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes, Erika Solomon and Dominic Evans; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

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Comments (13)
greenspy wrote:
Maybe the tide to turning a little toward a more freer Syria. Assad and his officers dont care about their people getting killed or about blowing up buidings and destroying family life/the economy. Its all about power and money, soon this rich rat-like leader will attempt to leave before being executed.

May 02, 2012 8:41am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Austell wrote:
Reader discretion is advised:

Reuters obtains ALL information from the FAKE ‘Syrian observatory for human rights’ – a propaganda organization set up OUTSIDE SYRIA (in London) by the opposition militants and funded by the US government.

That is why their reports “can not be independantly verified” – because they are not based on journalism or evidence, they should be viewed with EXTREME prejudice…

Some foreign independant news organizations ARE allowed free movement inside Syria and they are reporting a DRASTICALLY different story to what reuters would have you believe.

Also, Reuters and their FAKE information source:

1) Count ALL militant and terrorist deaths as “civillians”.

2) Count ALL civillian deaths as a result of Syrian Army fire.

Their reporting on Syria is like a North Korean eletion.

The figures are not even slightly based in reality.

The source of their information, sectarian Islamists.

The motivation for change in Syria, Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia Law.

AAAAALLLAHU AKBAR!!!!!!!!!!!!

May 02, 2012 9:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fromkin wrote:
This is media for hire. Reuters is publishing commissioned articles against Syria.

I am still waiting to hear Reuters report Nato committed crimes in Lybia or U.S committed crimes Irak or Afghanistan or Israel committed crimes against palestinians.I am not naive!

This is pathetic. After regime change faillure western medias are left publishing suicide bombings and killings of Syria’s security forces by terrorists. It’s cowardly too as they are doing it by spreading lies and making sure Syria’s government’s hands remain tied by the Annan Plan while terrorists are striking.

It’s now obvious that rebels(US and allies)have never intended to honor the cease-fire. This is the reason why they refused to give a written guarantee to syria and Annan.

The cease-fire was just one more ploy to achieve the end game:Regime change. But let’s hope this doesn’t happen as planned.

Folks, the US and its allies are trying the Rwanda’s scenerio again in Syria. The Annan plan is a strategy to buy time while they are stocking deadly weapons they are supplying to rebels. The 150,000 tones of seized heavy weapons in Lebannon were intended to be used for that purpose. The strategy is called “NEGOCIATE AND FIGHT”, while making sure Syria is handicapped with UN interference. The objective is to get the rebels close enough to Assad(in the political sttlement stage,one of Annan six points) and kill him when they get a chance as rwandan rebels did with Abyarimana(the assassinated rwandan president by rebels now ruling). After Assad is killed they will encourage genocide(as they did in Rwanda) which will be blamed on Assad’s clan. The ultimate goal is not just to kill Assad but to wipe out everyone who supported him, the entire regime. Thus REGIME CHANGE,which implies millions of syrians dying.

Annan and Boot(the U.N general head of monitoring team) played a role respectively in Rwanda and Bosnia.

May 02, 2012 11:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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