Syrian Cease-fire Deteriorates With More Violence

A photo released by SANA, the Syrian news agency, shows the aftermath of car bomb in Damascus, April 24, 2012.
A photo released by SANA, the Syrian news agency, shows the aftermath of car bomb in Damascus, April 24, 2012.

A nearly two-week old U.N.-brokered cease-fire in Syria continued to fray Tuesday, amid reports of government shelling in the country's third and fourth largest cities of Homs and Hama, despite visits to those areas by U.N. observers. A bomb blast was also reported in the center of Damascus.

U.N. observers continued their mission to Syria's fourth largest city of Hama Tuesday, speaking to residents who voiced anger over government attacks in their area.

Witnesses say government troops shelled parts of Homs, Hama and the Damascus suburb of Douma during the past 48 hours. Opposition activists say the attacks took place just after U.N. observers visited those regions. Government tanks stormed two other Damascus suburbs.

Despite an international cease-fire, the Syrian government says it will respond to what it calls "armed terrorists."

Members of the first U.N. monitoring team, together with members of the Syrian Free Army, visit Homs, Syria, April 21, 2012.
Members of the first U.N. monitoring team, together with members of the Syrian Free Army, visit Homs, Syria, April 21, 2012.

A spokesman for the U.N. observers, Neeraj Singh, said that the initial team of six has been strengthened to 11. A larger team of 300 is expected in the near future.

"The team spent a considerable amount of time going around, meeting with the people but also conducting patrols afterwards," Singh said. "Contacts are continuing, we are establishing liaisons with all the parties, preparing the ground for the larger mission coming in."

Syrian state TV reported that a car bomb went off in central Damascus with several casualties reported. At least three members of the government's military intelligence forces were also reported to have been killed elsewhere.

Timor Goksel, the former spokesman of the U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon. defended the observer mission in Syria. He said it will take time for the team to deploy and get acclimated, but that it would ultimately have a positive effect on the situation.

"Once they are there in force with the proper command structure, then they will try to start making themselves felt by going to trouble spots and doing reporting," said Goksel. "We are hoping to get unbiased, neutral, impartial reports that we don't get from anybody else and by their presence in the area, they will calm down the situation and help contribute to an atmosphere of dialogue of some sort, but they are not the ones who are going to solve this problem."

Goksel said that extra time is needed to get the full observer team on the ground, since the Syrian government insists on approving what nations will participate.

Analyst Nadim Shehadi of Chatham House in London, however, said that time is of the essence in deploying the U.N. observer team.

"We should not repeat the Iraq experience of the '90s of allowing Saddam Hussein to massacre his people while the world is undecided about what to do," said Shehadi. "Time is not a neutral element. Time is measured by people being killed and by the regime gaining an upper hand."

In an interview with the Arab daily Al Hayat, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki insisted that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would ultimately be forced out of office "dead or alive."  But, he warned Mr. Assad, "it is better for you to leave with your family alive," so as to avoid the "deaths of tens of thousands of innocents."

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Comment Sorting
April 26, 2012 1:37 PM
first of all every body knows that Bshar is TYRANT and he ruled his country with iron fist but his opponests seamingly are using alanguage of a trrorist they are exerimest no doubt of that and they get support from the most tyrant morchnareis in arab states no body can even imagine how this rulers who prevent women in their country to drive a car becoming a supporters of freedom

by: Mike
April 25, 2012 3:55 PM
It is kind of insulting to expect Assad to give-up or follow a cease-fire. He has no choice but to fight, and no reason to stop. He may be a butcher but he is not stupid. All the countries in the region are about the same so unless you want to crusade from one to another just stay out.

by: Hassan
April 24, 2012 5:26 PM
First of all Bashar Assad isn’t a Muslim (or a Buddhist or a Christian), he is a criminal. Assad’s dictatorship tortures, rapes & murders innocent civilians in order to continue to steal from the Syrian people and maintain their life of luxury. Money & power is more important to Assad’s dictatorship than human life. Negotiations mean nothing to Assad. The only thing they understand is fear. They fear that NATO will finally act to end this tragedy against the Syrian people by ending Assad’s rule.

by: Mudasir
April 24, 2012 10:31 AM
For what are we Muslims fighting there in Syria what is the problem are we not one ummah one nation then who is outsider and who is insider please stop it humanity is bleeding for sake of Islam stop it, others are laughing on us,,,,

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