Rebels say Syria police kill two, U.N. monitors dispute

AMMAN Tue May 22, 2012 1:44pm EDT

1 of 3. Members of the Free Syrian Army walk as they carry rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) at Bab Al Hawa in outskirts of Idlib, near the Syrian-Turkey border May 21, 2012. The Free Syrian Army is a loosely organised force of defecting soldiers and protesters formed in response to President Bashar al-Assad crackdown on what began 14 months ago as a peaceful uprising.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

Related Video

Related News

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian rebels said police had opened fire and killed two people on Tuesday when a crowd turned out to greet a team of U.N. ceasefire monitors in the eastern province of Deir al-Zor.

A United Nations spokeswoman said the team had heard gunfire but said they had not seen any casualties.

The U.N. team was part of a contingent of about 260 unarmed observers sent to Syria to monitor an internationally-brokered ceasefire in the conflict between President Bashar al-Assad and opponents trying to overthrow him.

Government forces have been widely condemned for their repression of the uprising but both sides have regularly violated the ceasefire.

Abu Laila, a Free Syrian Army official, told Reuters by phone from the town of al-Busaira: "As soon as the U.N. convoy entered al-Busaira, a jubilant crowd of hundreds came out to welcome them. It was not minutes before they came under fire."

Another opposition source in the province said government forces surrounding al-Busaira had fired anti-aircraft guns at the town.

The spokeswoman for the monitors, whose mission is part of a peace plan laid out by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, said the U.N. team had heard gunfire near the town but had no information on casualties.

"A group of villagers from elsewhere followed the U.N. patrol to al-Busaira, which is government-controlled. They were asked not to follow the patrol into the town," she said.

"The team left by another checkpoint to avoid any contact between the military and villagers, and there they heard the use of heavy weapons."

Claims from both sides in the conflict are hard to confirm independently as Syria restricts access for most journalists.

Deir al-Zor, an oil-producing province bordering Iraq, has often seen skirmishes in recent months between insurgents and government troops trying to regain control of rebel-held areas.

Assad, a member of Syria's Alawite minority, had relied on a network of alliances with Sunni Muslim tribes forged by his late father, Hafez al-Assad, to keep Deir al-Zor under control.

But these began to break down after anti-Assad demonstrations broke out in July and the government sent in tanks to quell them.

The United Nations says Assad's forces have killed at least 9,000 people since the uprising started in March 2011. The government says armed opposition groups have killed about 2,600 soldiers and members of the security forces.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (8)
Austell wrote:
Look at the picture up top.

These are Reuters boys!

These are the terrorists and Islamists Reuters has been covering for this whole time…

May 22, 2012 3:10am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Austell wrote:
Reuters want you to believe these US backed, balaclava clad sectarian Islamists and firing wildly into the air screaming ALLLAAAHU AKBAR!!! want democracy…

Literally, that is how stupid they think you are!

May 22, 2012 3:18am EDT  --  Report as abuse
jrpardinas wrote:
No one can ever kill enough Sunni Arab terrorists.

May 22, 2012 8:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Pictures