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.

 

Yemen’s Huthis seize Sanaa state offices

Three years to end Israeli occupation in UN resolution

Iraq Kurds, coalition launch offensive to retake Sinjar

Saudi to carry on massive public spending

Key oil producers face uncertain outlook in 2015

Iraq may delay payment of Kuwait war reparations

Over $900 million needed to help Syria children

Saudi rules out oil output reduction

Dutch populist lawmaker to be tried for 'fewer Moroccans' vow

Outrage in Algeria over Islamist call for Algerian author's death

Somalia appoints new PM after bitter infighting

Blow to Israel: EU court removes Hamas from terror blacklist

Sharp rise in Syria passport applications

Turkey FM visit to Iran highlights Syria divide

UK troops mistreated Iraq detainees in 2004

Iran to Australia: We warned you about the gunman

From bikini to Jihad in Ceuta, Melilla

Tunisia votes Sunday in second round of presidential poll

Islamist militias launch air strike near key Libyan oil terminals

Egypt refers 312 Islamists to military courts

Turkey rejects EU criticism over media arrests

Kerry meets chief Palestinian negotiator

Saudi cleric sparks uproar for showing wife’s face

15,000 march against country’s ‘Islamisation’ in eastern Germany

Gulf stock markets tumble

Australia mourns Sydney cafe siege victims

Hostages flee as police storm Sydney café

Erdogan to EU: Mind your own business!

Syria PM in Iran for talks with key ally

22 Swiss jihadists fighting abroad

#illridewithyou: Australians stand in solidarity with Muslims

Sydney siege 'lone wolf' or IS-led attack?

EU support UN efforts for Aleppo ceasefire

Saudi policeman killed in Riyadh hostage-taking

Saudi king receives Jordan monarch

Palestinians push UN bid to end Israeli occupation

Hostages held in Sydney cafe, Islamic flag held up

Hamas stages show of strength to mark 27th anniversary

France 'neutralised' 200 jihadists in Sahel region of West Africa

Kerry in Rome ahead of Palestinian push at UN

Drive-by shooting kills two Egypt policemen in Sinai Peninsula

Libya pro-government forces push back Islamist fighters

Wave of arrests targets Gulen supporters in Turkey

Security Council fails and Bashir declares victory!

UAE calls on Arabs to invest in future amid ‘rapid changes’