First Published: 2012-04-04

 

Truce pledge in tatters: Syria regime steps up assault on rebels

 

US accuses Assad of failing to honour his pledged troop withdrawal as UN moves to send monitors.

 

Middle East Online

At least 38 people killed on Tuesday

DAMASCUS - Fierce clashes erupted after Syria's regime sent reinforcements into rebel areas despite a truce pledge, as the UN said it was rushing a team to Damascus to pave the way for peace monitors.

The surge in violence on Tuesday killed at least 38 people, including 25 civilians, mostly in north and central Syria, and saw a string of arson attacks on homes, activists and monitors said.

It came a day after peace envoy Kofi Annan told the UN Security Council that President Bashar al-Assad had given assurances he would "immediately" start pulling back his forces and complete a military withdrawal from urban areas by April 10.

The United States accused Assad of failing to honour his pledged troop withdrawal, as monitors reported heavy fighting in opposition strongholds in the southern region of Daraa, the central city of Homs, northwestern Idlib province and near the capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has charged that the army is torching and looting rebel houses across the country in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity.

Dozens of armoured personnel carriers arrived in Dael, a town in Daraa province where the uprising against Assad began in March 2011, as well as in Zabadani, a bastion of the rebellion near the border with Lebanon.

Clashes in the Atbaa area of Daraa left three civilians and two soldiers dead, according to the Observatory.

In Idlib, heavy fighting took place on the outskirts of the town of Taftanaz, where five civilians, four rebels and seven soldiers were killed amid heavy machinegun fire and shelling, the Britain-based monitoring group said.

Clashes killed two civilians elsewhere in the province.

In central Homs, 10 civilians were killed in shelling and five others died in fighting elsewhere in the province.

With international concern at the situation growing, a draft UN Security Council statement was drawn up asking Syria to respect an April 10 deadline to halt its military operations in protest cities, according to a copy of the text seen by AFP.

The draft also urges the Syrian opposition to cease hostilities within 48 hours after the Assad's regime makes good on its pledges.

It also calls on all parties to respect a two-hour daily humanitarian pause, as called for in Annan's plan.

Negotiations on the text -- distributed by Britain, France and the United States -- began on Tuesday. France's UN envoy Gerard Araud said he hoped it would be adopted late Wednesday or on Thursday.

Russia, Assad's veto-wielding ally in the Council, has rejected the idea of a deadline, with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov saying "ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help matters."

Washington said on Tuesday that Assad was failing to live up to pledges for a truce.

"The assertion to Kofi Annan was that Assad would start implementing his commitments immediately to withdraw from cities. I want to advise that we have seen no evidence today that he is implementing any of those commitments," US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

In Geneva, a spokesman for Annan said the office of the UN-Arab League envoy expected a "UN advance team on the deployment of monitors to arrive in Syria in the next 48 hours."

In a briefing Monday to the Security Council, Annan sought a broad mandate for the monitoring mission as he reported "no progress" on reaching a ceasefire, according to diplomats.

Syria's UN envoy, Bashar Jaafari, confirmed the April 10 date had been agreed "by common accord" between Annan and his government.

Seeking to assuage some of the humanitarian concerns, foreign Minister Walid Muallem pledged Syria would do its utmost to ensure the success of a Red Cross mission as he met the organisation's head, Jakob Kellenberger, who was in Damascus to seek a daily ceasefire.

International Committee of the Red Cross chief Kellenberger, on his third mission to Damascus since it launched a protest crackdown which the UN says has killed more than 9,000 people, said ahead of his latest trip that he would seek to secure a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire.

 

Sudan clamps down on journalists covering bread protests

Tribal feuds spread fear in Iraq's Basra

UN warns of "lost generation" in South Sudan's grinding conflict

Trump dashes Netanyahu’s hope to move US embassy to Jerusalem

US to overtake Saudi as world’s second crude oil producer

Aid for millions of Palestinians hostage to politics

Lebanon thwarts holiday attacks using IS informant

Mortar fire wounds 14 in Syria mental hospital

Turkish military fires on Kurdish forces in Syria's Afrin

More than 32,000 Yemenis displaced in intensified fighting

Saudi's refined oil exports offset crude curbs

Turkey's EU minister rejects any option other than full membership

Turkey says not reassured by US comments on border force

UN chief wants to revive Syria gas attack probe

US has no intention to build border force in Syria

Lebanese intelligence service may be spying using smartphones worldwide

Egypt's Sisi sacks intelligence chief

Cyprus denies bail for Israeli organ trafficker

Rising Yemen currency sparks hopes of relief

Turkish ministries to investigate underage pregnancy cover-up

Iraq PM launches online appeal for election allies

Iran central bank sees claim for billions from German stock market blocked

Iraq signs deal with BP to develop Kirkuk oil fields

Israeli occupation forces raid Jenin, kill Palestinian

HRW chief says 'Nobody should be forcibly returned to Libya'

IS poses threat to Iraq one month after 'liberation'

Seven years since ousting dictator, Tunisians still protest

Iran says Trump jeopardising Airbus deals

China says Iranian oil tanker wreck located

Sudan arrests communist leader after protests

Syrian opposition joins condemnation of US 'border force'

Israeli judge detains teen until trial for viral ‘slap video’

Arab league slams US freeze of Palestinian funding

Dubai billionaire to sell 15 percent Damac stake

Britain to put women at heart of peace work in Iraq, Nigeria, South Sudan

Saudi to give Yemen government $2bn bailout

US withholds $65 million from UN agency for Palestinians

Saudi Arabia intercepts new Yemen rebel missile attack

Syria Kurds vow to cleanse enclave from Turkish 'scourges'

Israeli police find missing Briton’s belongings in desert

Algeria gas plant workers mark five years since jihadist siege

UN says over 5000 children killed or injured in Yemen war

European leaders’ response to Iran protests raises questions

Erdogan to visit Pope Francis next month

Iran slams US-backed 'border security force' in Syria