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Air Strikes in Syrian Capital Shatter Truce

  • Edward Yeranian

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens gather in front of a damaged building that was destroyed by a car bomb, at Jaramana neighborhood, in Damascus, Syria, Monday Oct. 29, 2012.

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Syrian citizens gather in front of a damaged building that was destroyed by a car bomb, at Jaramana neighborhood, in Damascus, Syria, Monday Oct. 29, 2012.

Syria's Eid al Adha holiday truce is in tatters as Syrian warplanes bombed rebel targets Monday in the Damascus suburbs in what activists say was the fiercest air raid campaign in the capital since the uprising began 19 months ago. Also, a car bomb explosion hit a mostly pro-government suburb of Damascus, killing at least 10 people.

Syrian state television showed firefighters and neighbors picking through mounds of rubble and twisted metal after a car bomb exploded in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana.

Residents told state media that the explosion took place in front of a bakery in a civilian area with no military targets. The southeastern district is controlled by forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. But one resident questioned to state media why anyone would bomb the area.

Timeline of Syria Uprising

March 2011: First protests erupt, dozens killed. Government announces reforms, then resigns.

April, May 2011: Protests intensify and spread, hundreds killed. U.S. imposes sanctions on top leaders.

August, September 2011: Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain withdraw ambassadors. U.S. imposes economic sanctions, EU bans Syrian oil imports.

October 2011: Russia, China veto a U.N. resolution condemning Syria.

November 2011: The Arab League suspends Syria's membership.

January 2012: Government releases 5,000 prisoners. Death toll soars past 7,000.

February 2012: Russia, China veto a second U.N. resolution condemning crackdown.

March 2012: Former U.N. chief Kofi Annan holds talks in Syria. U.N. says death toll exceeds 9,000. Syria agrees to U.N.-backed peace plan.

April 2012: Syria says it will abide by a cease-fire on April 12, but violence continues. U.N. observers arrive.

May 2012: Syria holds parliamentary elections, violence continues, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan appeals to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop the violence.

June 2012: Western nations expel Syrian diplomats, Annan urges increased pressure on Syria.

July 2012: Red Cross expands areas of Syria it says are in civil war. Violence increases across the country.

August 2012: A day after Syrian warplanes attacked the rebel-controlled northern town of Azaz and a bombing near the U.N. observer headquarters in Damascus, the U.N. Security Council decides to end the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria when its mandate expires on August 19. Annan steps down as U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria.

September 2012: Fighting intensifies in Aleppo and continues across the country. New U.N.-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi visits the country and meets with Assad.

October 2012: Aleppo's historic souk burns as fighting rages in the city. The Syrian army says it will suspend military operations to mark the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha, declaring a cease-fire during the holiday, but reserving the right to respond to rebel attacks and bombings.

Multiple raids around Damascus

He said that Jaramana is known for being a peaceful area, where everyone gets along well.

The car bomb attack came as the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighter jets carried out at least six raids on other areas of the capital, including Rankous and Harasta.

The opposition group reported intense clashes as troops attempt to regain control from anti-government rebels. An opposition activist said "more than 100 buildings were destroyed" during Monday's attacks and that "whole neighborhoods are deserted."

Earlier, the U.N.-Arab League envoy for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met in Moscow with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and told a news conference they were disappointed that neither the government nor the rebels were observing a Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday truce.

Finger pointing by both sides

The government and opposition blame each other for breaking the truce.

Brahimi, however, said he would not give up on the peace process.

“I'm terribly sorry, just as Sergei has said he was, that this appeal has not been heard to the level we hoped it would. But that will not discourage us because Syria is very important and because the people of Syria deserve our support and our interest," said Brahimi. "So we shall continue to work as hard as we possibly can, with the cooperation of everybody inside and outside Syria, to bring the level of violence down.”

Brahimi said he preferred to call the cease-fire a “pause,” and said he had not negotiated extensively with either side to implement it. He also said that Syria “needs real and not just cosmetic change.”

“That change,” he said, “must be worked out by the Syrians... with a Syrian-led process” and “supported by the international community.”

Death toll climbs

Middle East analyst Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said the cease-fire was ineffective since neither side saw an interest in observing one.

"There was no real cease-fire. The parties involved had no interest in going right now into a cease-fire. It was apparent that both sides agreed to the cease-fire just to avoid taking the blame for not agreeing to a cease-fire. I think from Brahimi's side, it is a way to show that he is trying to do something,” said Kahwaji.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also expressed deep disappointment that the cease-fire failed to take hold. During a speech Monday in South Korea, Ban called on the international community to do more to help stop the fighting.

The Observatory, an opposition watchdog, said 420 people have been killed since Friday.

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