So much for the ceasefire: Syrian tanks keep shelling Homs after UN deadline passes as 1,000 people die in eight days

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2127615/SYRIA-Tanks-shelling-Homs-UN-deadline-passes-1k-people-die-8-days.html

  • Shells fired in defiance of passing deadline to pull troops and heavy weapons out of towns
  • Britain’s Foreign Secretary William Hague accuses Syria of breaking international law
  • Funerals held for three killed inside refugee camp in Turkey as well as Lebanese cameraman shot dead across border
  • Fears Turkish troops may enter conflict after Turkey’s PM warns they are planning ‘steps’ and accuses regime of shooting children ‘in the back’
  • Syria hits back by accusing Turkey of arming and helping rebel fighters

By Julian Gavaghan and David Williams

PUBLISHED: 04:55 EST, 10 April 2012 | UPDATED: 17:12 EST, 10 April 2012

Syrian troops bombarded their own cities in blatant defiance of their promise to withdraw their forces under a UN peace plan that should have come into force yesterday.

As the deadline passed, activists reported fresh military attacks and raids. They said 31 people were killed yesterday, including 26 in Homs, the focus of the heaviest shelling.

Foreign Secretary William Hague led international condemnation, stressing there was no evidence the regime was honouring the deal to pull troops out of urban centres.

Scroll down for video: WARNING – Graphic content

Defiance: A tank fires a shell as it is filmed rolling through the street of Homs todayDefiance: A tank fires a shell as it is filmed rolling through the street of Homs today

Flames: Fire pours out of a window in the Jouret Shiyah district of Homs after being shelled on the day Syria had agreed it would pull its troops backFlames: Fire pours out of a window in the Jouret Shiyah district of Homs after being shelled on the day Syria had agreed it would pull its troops back

He accused it of using the agreement as cover for a renewed military effort to crush the opposition behind the uprising against hard-line President Assad.

‘They have ruthlessly subjected whole  communities to an inhumane  campaign of shelling, forced expulsions and executions,’ he said.

Fighting, which has intensified in the run-up to peace deadlines, killed 30 people in the country today – including 26 in Homs, which has borne the brunt of the brutal crackdown. it was claimed.

Across Syria, 160 people died yesterday and over the last eight days 1,000 lives have been lost, the opposition also said.

Under UN peace envoy Kofi Annan’s plan, a Syrian troop pullback from towns and villages was to be completed today, with all hostilities to end by 6am on Thursday.

However, although the exact death toll cannot be verified, there is little evidence that government troops are retreating. Observers said Mareh, in the northwest, was also shelled today.

A spokeswoman for the Syrian National Council says troops loyal to President Bashar Assad have intensified their onslaught in opposition areas despite saying it would accept the plan.

Bassma Kodmani said regime forces have used heavy weapons including anti-aircraft guns against civilians and that the humanitarian situation on the ground is ‘dramatically deteriorating’.

Foreign Secretary William Hague led international condemnation stressing there was no evidence the regime was prepared to honour the agreement to pull its troops out of Syria’s main urban centres.

He accused it of using the deal – brokered by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan – as cover for a renewed military effort to crush the opposition.

‘They have ruthlessly subjected whole communities to an inhumane campaign of shelling, forced expulsions and executions,’ he said.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan accused Assad of personal responsibility for killing civilians and warned he would take unspecified steps after Syrian troops shot at refugees inside Turkey.

‘He is continuing to kill 60, 70, 80, 100 every day,’ Erdogan said of Assad, whom he once called a friend but whose troops were now, the Turkish premier said, ‘mercilessly’ shooting fleeing women and children in the back.

It comes as funerals were held for three people in Turkey who were killed after soldiers loyal to president Bashar al-Assad fired into a refugee camp there yesterday.

Siege: A building is hit with a shell in the already battered city of HomsSiege: A building is hit with a shell in the already battered city of Homs

 

Smoke: Dust and smoke rises from as a building is attackedSmoke: Dust and smoke rises from as a building is attacked

And mourners buried Lebanese cameraman Ali Shaaban, who was killed by Syrian soldiers while on the Lebanon side of the border.

The risk of conflict drawing in its neighbouring nations’ troops also edged closer today after the Turkish prime minister warned that his country may take steps measures ‘we don’t want to think about’.

Syria immediately hit back by accusing Turkey of arming Syrian rebels and undermining the peace plan.

‘Turkey supports illegal Syrian militant groups, supplies them with weapons and lets them illegally cross into Syria,’ Syrian foreign minister Walid Muallem stated during a joint press conference in Moscow for his meeting with Russian counterpart Serghei Lavrov.

‘How can we [fulfill the plan] if there are still illegal arms deliveries and moving of militants from Turkey?’ asked Minister Muallem.

Syria initially accepted the UN-brokered deal, but raised made last-minute demands over the weekend, saying it could not pull back forces without written guarantees that the rebel fighters would lay down their arms.

Killed: Ali Shaaban, a Lebanese cameraman, who was killed by Syrian soldiers while on the Lebanon side of the borderKilled: Ali Shaaban, a Lebanese cameraman, who was killed by Syrian soldiers while on the Lebanon side of the border

Pain: Mourners carry the coffin of Ali Shaaban in front of his workplace, Al-Jadeed TV in Beirut, todayPain: Mourners carry the coffin of Ali Shaaban in front of his workplace, Al-Jadeed TV in Beirut, today

A colleague grieves as the coffin of Lebanon's Al-Jadeed TV cameraman Ali Shaaban is paraded
A relative mourns for Ali Shaaban, a television cameraman working for Al-Jadee

Tears: Grief for Ali Shaaban is shared by a colleague, left, and a relative at his funeral this morning

Today, as fighting continue to rage and the rebels dismissed the demand, the Syrian government said it wanted guarantees from Mr Annan himself that militants would commit to a ceasefire.

‘We will not ask the terrorist groups, which are killing, kidnapping and destroying infrastructure, for guarantees. We want Annan to give us these guarantees,’ Mr Muallam added.

He also said that Mr Annan told him in a recent telephone call that a ceasefire in the country would be followed by disarming of the rebels.

 

CEASEFIRE DEADLINE LOOMS: SYRIA TIMELINE FOR THIS WEEK

April 9: Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem arrives in Moscow for talks beginning April 10.

April 10: Deadline for Syrian troops to begin withdrawing from population centres under a cease-fire plan brokered by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

April 10: Syrian and Russian foreign ministers scheduled to hold news conference in Moscow.

April 10: Annan to visit Syrian refugees in Turkey.

April 11: Annan expected in Tehran to discuss Syrian crisis.

April 12 – 6 a.m: deadline for total cease-fire under Annan agreement.

The peace envoy was today due to visit the camp in in the Turkish town of Kilis where two Syrian refugees and a Turkish translator were killed and 15 others were wounded.

Refugees in the camp were sceptical about making any deals with the Syrian leader, who has gone back on his word in previous failed truce efforts.

‘We believe in Kofi Annan, but Bashar Assad is not trustworthy,’ said refugee Dalal Fezo. ‘He was given 10 days to pull back his troops but he didn’t.’

As the risk of a regional conflict intensified, the Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced he was cutting short his trip to China and will return to his homeland.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who remains on his official visit to the Far East, today accused Syria of violating the border.

He said his country is considering what steps to take in response, including measures ‘we don’t want to think about.’

He did not go into detail over the warning but his remark could suggest that Turkish armed forces may be drawn into the conflict.

Turkey, which has already given shelter to some 24,000 Syrian refugees, has already floated the idea of creating security zones along its border, which would involve the deployment of the Turkish military

The number of Syrian refugees in four neighbouring countries has jumped by 40 per cent in recent weeks and now stands at about 55,000, almost half of whom are under 18 years old, according to UN figures.

Shooting: A wounded Syrian man is hospitalised after he crossed Turkey's border in Kilis District, GaziantepShooting: A wounded Syrian man is hospitalised after he crossed Turkey’s border in Kilis District, Gaziantep

 

Grim: Heavily damaged buildings in the Baba Amr district of the flashpoint Syrian city of HomsGrim: Heavily damaged buildings in the Baba Amr district of the flashpoint Syrian city of Homs

But the total is likely to grow because there are estimated to be at least 20,000 refugees who have not yet registered, as well as 200,000 or more Syrians who are displaced within their own country.

Meanwhile, the Syrian opposition said it would go along with the UN-brokered truce but would not agree to government demands to lay down its arms.

A spokesman said rebel forces do not recognize the Assad regime and would not issue the requested guarantees.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, from the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said regime troops fired shells at the town of Mareh in northwestern Syria on Tuesday.

Actvists also said the central city of Homs was struck by mortar rounds and that forces carried out arrests in the Damascus suburb of Harasta.

Mr Abdul-Rahman said that despite there being no sign of a large-scale troop withdrawal, there did seem to be a drop in attacks by Syrian forces this morning.

Camp: Syrian refugees going about their daily lives at the Reyhanli refugee Camp in Antakya. Syrians shot over the border - just hours before a ceasefire is due to beginCamp: Syrian refugees going about their daily lives at the Reyhanli refugee Camp in Antakya. Syrians shot over the border – just hours before a ceasefire is due to begin

Agony: A newly arrived Syrian refugee with a leg smashed lies in a hospital bed in a refugee camp in TurkeyAgony: A newly arrived Syrian refugee with a leg smashed by the Assad regime’s thugs, lies in a hospital bed in a another refugee camp in Reyhanli, Turkey

 

Shooting: Syrian refugees arrive at a camp in Antakya in this file photo. At least two people were killed and 15 wounded in a shooting from over the borderShooting: Syrian refugees arrive at a camp in Antakya in this file photo. At least two people were killed and 15 wounded in a shooting from over the border

Mohammed Saeed, a resident of the Damascus suburb of Douma, said tanks that routinely patrol the streets were not visible today.

In other developments today, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Bernard Valero dismissed Syria’s claims of compliance as ‘a new expression of this flagrant and unacceptable lie.’

Even allies Russia and China seemed critical of the regime.They both called on the Syrian government and rebels to honour their truce agreement.

It heralds a change in tone by the countries, which have twice shielded Damascus from UN sanctions over Assad’s brutal crackdown on an uprising that has so far killed more than 9,000 people.

Although, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov tempered the statement by also calling on countries that ‘influence’ the opposition to use their powers to bring about a cease-fire.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China hopes the Syrian government and opposition ‘stay with their commitment to the cease-fire and withdrawal, and create favourable conditions for easing the tension in Syria and pushing for a political resolution for the Syria issue.’

 

Mourning: Yet more YouTube footage from this week shows Syrians carrying the coffins of people allegedly killed by regime forces in Duma, near the capital DamascusMourning: Yet more YouTube footage from this week shows Syrians carrying the coffins of people allegedly killed by regime forces in Duma, near the capital Damascus

Brutal: Frames from the mobile video footage uploaded to YouTube, which allegedly shows members of the Syrian government forces beating a rebel in the suburbs of DamascusBrutal: Frames from the mobile video footage uploaded to YouTube, which allegedly shows members of the Syrian government forces beating a rebel in the suburbs of Damascus

Yesterday disturbing footage emerged allegedly showing Syrian troops beating an anti-government rebel in the suburbs of the country’s capital, Damascus.

The mobile video, which came to light on Sunday, has not yet been verified.

It shows a man lying face down on a dusty floor, his hands behind his back as three others – two of them wearing fatigues –  stand on his neck and back, kicking him and hitting him with a small club.

The clip was uncovered by news agency AFP as a UN-brokered peace deal for Syria appeared to collapse.

Separately, a leading international human rights group said Syrian forces have summarily executed more than 100 people, most of them civilians.

This includes several mass executions in the restive provinces of Homs and Idlib, the study by Human Rights Watch said.

The New-York-based group says it only included cases corroborated by witnesses but has received more reports of similar incidents. The executions took place over the past four months, with most in March.

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Posted on April 11, 2012, in Politics, World Politics and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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