Assad government observes truce by killing 67 more civilians

The Syrian Army continues to shell the rebel stronghold of Homs in violation of the cease-fire. (Shaam News Network)

JERUSALEM (JWN and agencies)—Anti-government activists reported 67 more Syrians killed by government forces on Tuesday, many of them as the army continued to pound a rebel stronghold in Homs with mortar fire. Despite ongoing violations of the week-old cease-fire by the Syrian Army, the UN is still trying to monitor the violence in hope of containing it.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights announced Wednesday that Assad’s forces resumed their attack on Homs, which has been battered by artillery for weeks.

The Local Coordination Committee, which documents violence on the ground, said that 35 people were killed in the northern province of Idlib. Troops and rebels clashed in the southern province of Daraa, near the Syrian-Jordanian border, opposition activists said. They said six people were killed in Daraa and the others in the central provinces of Homs and Hama.

“The fighting is concentrating in an area called al-Jaat and Basr al-Harir. The government forces are trying to storm the area where rebels have strongholds, but all their attempts have so far failed,” Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, told DPA.

The head of the five-member team in Syria, Moroccan Col. Ahmed Himmiche, told reporters in Damascus that the mission “is not easy and it will require coordination with all sides.”

“There are many obstacles, and the Syrian government is not helping to ease them off, which delays the movement of the team to prepare the ground for the larger batch of observers to arrive in Syria,” a western diplomat told DPA.

The UN Security Council has demanded full access for the team of monitors, but diplomatic sources said there is concern the government will try to skew their observations by forcing the monitors to travel with government minders. Similarly, a supposed offer to fly observers around by Syrian Air Force helicopters was being taken with a grain of salt.

In Luxembourg, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday asked the European Union if it could put planes and helicopters at the disposal of the observers to enhance the “mobility of the mission.”