Syria rebels kill 7, bomb explodes near U.N. monitors

AMMAN Wed May 9, 2012 12:26pm EDT

1 of 3. A members of the security force shows his injuries sustained after the vehicle he was travelling in was hit in a blast in the southern Syrian province of Deraa, in this handout released by Syria's national news agency SANA, May 9, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/SANA/Handout

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AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels killed at least seven pro-government militiamen in a Damascus suburb on Wednesday, activists said, and an explosion wounded eight soldiers escorting U.N. ceasefire observers in the southern province of Deraa.

The Damascus attack with rocket-propelled grenades on a bus carrying the fighters through the suburb of Irbin prompted the army to seal off the area and respond with shelling, activist Mohammad Saeed said.

Sustained violence in Syria, nearly four weeks after a ceasefire deal brokered by mediator Kofi Annan, has led to warnings this week from the Red Cross, Arab League and Annan himself that the country is slipping into civil war.

Annan's truce was part of a wider plan aimed at ending 14 months of unrest, starting with peaceful but violently repressed demonstrations against President Bashar al-Assad and moving into an armed conflict that the International Committee of the Red Cross says now meets its definition of civil war in some areas.

Bloodshed in Syria has sharply divided world powers. The U.S. envoy to the United Nations declared on Tuesday that Assad's government had not fully implemented any part of Annan's plan, while Russia's ambassador, who has been more supportive of Damascus, said "things are moving in a positive direction".

On Wednesday a bomb exploded in Deraa close to a convoy of U.N. monitors, led by Major-General Robert Mood, tasked with observing the implementation of Annan's April 12 ceasefire deal.

The pro-government Addounia television said eight members of the security forces accompanying the monitors were wounded in the blast, but none of the U.N. observers was hurt.

"The important thing is not speculating about who was the target, what was the target, but to make the point that this is what the Syrian people are seeing every day and it needs to stop," Mood said afterwards.

Despite an initial lull in fighting, the agreed ceasefire has not taken hold. Nor has the carnage stopped, despite a parliamentary poll on Monday which the government promoted as a milestone on its path to reform, but which the opposition dismissed as a sham and boycotted.

Beyond the ceasefire and monitoring mission, Annan's plan also calls for free access for journalists, humanitarian aid access and political dialogue between the government and opposition. So far, 60 of some 300 monitors have arrived with the whole team expected to be assembled by the end of May.

CROSS-BORDER FIRE

Lebanese residents in the border town of al-Qaa said Syrian troops fired across the border into Lebanon on Wednesday, killing a 75-year-old woman and wounding her daughter.

In the northern province of Idlib, one man was killed and three others wounded during heavy clashes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Reuters journalist in Idlib city heard gunfire throughout the night.

Heavy clashes were also reported in Hama city and in Deir al-Zor, where residents say government forces carried out raids and arrests. Two security members were killed and one man was killed by unknown gunmen, the British-based Observatory said.

Opposition sources in Rastan, about 30 km (19 miles) north of Homs city, said U.N. observers had been unable to visit the town due to a third day of bombardment and shooting there. Two people were killed and seven wounded on Wednesday.

The United Nations says Syrian forces have killed 9,000 people since the uprising erupted in March 2011. Syrian authorities blame the violence on foreign-backed Islamist militants who they say have killed 2,600 soldiers and police.

Because of the conflict one million Syrians now need humanitarian help, according to a U.N. mission which visited in March. The United Nations is preparing a major aid operation, backed by a $180 million appeal, but has yet to reach agreement with Damascus on how the assistance will be delivered.

Syrian ambassador to Geneva Faysal Khabbaz Hamoui said talks were continuing but that his country's needs were not huge. "Syria is not Somalia. Syria is not Haiti," he told Reuters.

In New York, Syria's U.N. envoy Bashar Ja'afari displayed a CD on Tuesday containing what he said were confessions of 26 Arabs caught in Syria who had come from Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere via Turkey and Lebanon "to perpetrate terrorist acts".

Ja'afari said Syrian security forces had killed another 15 foreign fighters and he urged Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey to stop "their sponsorship of the armed rebellion".

The commander of Syria's rebel Free Syrian Army, which had agreed to halt attacks on Assad's forces in line with Annan's ceasefire, has threatened to resume fighting.

"We will not stand with folded arms because we are not able to tolerate and wait while killings, arrests and shelling continue despite the presence of the (U.N.)observers who have turned into false witnesses," Colonel Riad Asaad said, according to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper.

"Our people are also demanding we defend them in the absence of any serious steps by the Security Council which is giving the regime a chance to commit more crimes," he said.

(Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes and Erika Solomon in Beirut, Mariam Karouny in Damascus and Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Alistair Lyon)

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Comments (9)
Austell wrote:
“We will not stand with folded arms…”

THIS is the kind of BS you are supporting! They have been terrorizing and attacking Syrians and Syrian forces since the first day of the ceasefire, and are now trying to tell us they are “standing arms folded”…

You have got to be kidding me… well at least you can detonate a suicide bomb while you’re “standing, arms folded” cant you!

The Syrians are sick of these terrorists, armed Islamist gangs, militant snipers, illegal weapons shipments, and foreign intervention…

They should declare all out war on these criminal groups and just wipe them out instead of pussyfooting around trying to prove to an extremily hostile international community that the terrorists are at fault!

Syria has one of the best armed forces of all arab countries, stop messing around and defend your nation!!!

Wipe them out with a full scale assault, these are not Syrian civillians, they are mass murderers!

May 09, 2012 4:43am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fromkin wrote:
Pro-government militiamen is Reuteurs-speak for civilian killed by armed gangs.

Any civilian killed by opposition forces can be labelled”pro-government militiamen” because the people providing info to Reuters are also the ones killing “pro-government militiamen”.

So according to Reuters(and activists),Syria’s security forces are killing civilians but rebels are only killing “pro govt militiamen”

My question is the armed rebellion doesn’t have an armed militia or pro-rebellion militiamen?

Or when “pro-rebellion militiamen” die they are reincarnated by corporate sponsored medias as “peaceful civilian”?

May 09, 2012 10:21am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MarshallGrier wrote:
It is no secret that foreign fighters are being imported to bolster an otherwise non-existent uprising.

The Times newspaper featured a report on Syria many months ago when an opposition activist commented on how he had met a number of Libyans who had fought in Misrata and were now armed and trained to fight against the Syrian Army.

It makes you wonder if this was the plan all along. Arm and train rebels to overthrow Gaddafi and then send them to Syria to bring down the Government and install a Western puppet.

Whilst Western journalists show images of “Syrians” taking up arms to “defend civilians” from Assad, who is to say that these are not in fact Libyans mercenaries fighting for dollars?

Of course, by calling themselves rebels, they imply that they are fighting against the injustices they have witnessed, thereby affording themselves a sense of honour. But “rebel” is a loose term. Calling themselves foreign backed insurgents wouldn’t have the same effect.

May 09, 2012 12:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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