#Syria February 13/2013 Jobar: Smoke rise after airstrikes by regime, civilian casualties resulted.
An artillery attack in the central province of Homs killed at least 10 people on Tuesday, a watchdog said, adding that warplanes launched air strikes on multiple rebel bastions across Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that five women were among those killed in the shelling of Houla in Homs province.
“Houla sees daily shelling and daily fighting,” said Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission, a grassroots network of activists, described the killings in Houla as a “massacre” and added that dozens more wounded in the shelling.
In northern Syria, an air raid in the early hours of Tuesday on the rebel-held town of Al-Bab killed at least eight people, half of them women, said the Britain-based Observatory.
The watchdog also reported eruptions of violence on the edges of the capital, with the town of town of Mleha, southeast of Damascus, being hit by shelling and an air strike as rebels fought soldiers near a defense headquarters.
The rebel-held towns of Shebaa, southeast of Damascus, and Douma, east of the capital, were also hit by air strikes, the Observatory said.
Both towns are located in the Eastern Ghouta area of Damascus province, home to some of the rebel Free Syrian Army’s best organized and fiercest groups.
Damascus province has become the focus of Syria’s conflict in the past weeks with the army stepping up its bid to take back rebel-held areas near the capital.
Elsewhere, air raids struck the rebel-held districts of Jobar and Sultaniyeh in Homs city, several of whose districts have been under a suffocating army siege for more than six months, the Observatory said.
“They have launched an assault on districts under siege,” an anti-regime activist in the besieged Old City neighborhood of Homs city, who identified himself as Abu Bilal, told AFP via the Internet.
“The army is trying to take back Homs.”
Tuesday’s violence came a day after 165 people were killed across Syria, according to the Observatory.
The UN says more than 60,000 people have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of a peaceful uprising 22 months ago on March 15, 2011, which morphed into an insurgency after the regime of President Bashar al-Assad unleashed a brutal crackdown against dissent.
Syria’s air force dropped deadly explosive-filled barrels on several rebel-held areas across the embattled country on Saturday, a monitoring group said.
After battles with the army that have lasted several weeks, rebels seized control of Hamdan airport in the eastern town of Albu Kamal in Deir Ezzor province on the border with Iraq, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Most of the army’s air strikes targeted Idlib province in the northwest, Aleppo in the north and Damascus province. All three provinces are home to highly organized rebel groups.
In southern Damascus, four civilians were killed when the Palestinian Yarmuk camp was shelled, said the Observatory, although it did not specify whether the army or rebels were behind the bombardment.
Clashes also raged in the nearby district of Tadamun, where anti-regime sentiment is strong, the Britain-based watchdog said.
Warplanes also buzzed the Eastern Ghuta area, east of Damascus, said the Observatory, as regime forces cut off several roads leading to the capital.
In Albu Kamal, the fighting ended when rebels took control of Hamdan airport on the Iraqi border.
Syria’s military had used the agricultural airport as a base for helicopter gunships. Rebels seized several tanks and mortars that the army had stored there.
“The rebels now control large swathes of land in the area,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France Presse.
“The army has lost control of practically all the eastern border area, barring the Mayadeen military base” some 50 kilometers northwest of Albu Kamal, Abdel Rahman said.
In Aleppo, two rebels were killed in fighting, and regime forces launched several air strikes on towns near the embattled city, including Hreitan and Anadan, said the Observatory.
The air force also struck the strategic town of Maaret al-Numan, which rebels captured on October 9, and which lies on the road linking Damascus to Aleppo.
Despite near-daily air strikes and combat on the town’s edges, the army has been unable to recapture it.
At least 18 people were killed across Syria on Saturday, according to a preliminary count compiled by the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers for its information.
More than 39,000 people have been killed in violence nationwide since the outbreak of an anti-regime revolt in March last year, the Observatory said.
Damascus - East Gouta Brigade mothers of the believers remains of the pilots and the wreckage of the plane (high res)
#Syria, DamascusTribune Watch 4 rockets landing on2 buildings in Taftanaz in #Idlib. Cameraman reciting prayers b/c he think he’ll die
31 Oct 2012 #Altareb Aleppo massive air-strikes on bakery bring death and devastation - video #1. Somes scenes are distressing. More videos below.
Smoke rises after a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad fired missiles at Hamouria, near Damascus October 29, 2012. REUTERS/Shaam News Network/Handout
DAMASCUS: Syrian warplanes pounded rebel bastions on Wednesday as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi urged China to help end an escalating conflict now said to have killed more than 36,000 people.
In a week that has seen unprecedented air strikes, regime fighter jets again pummelled rebel-controlled areas east of Damascus where clashes have raged for months.
The raids were carried out a day after 30 civilians, including five children, were killed in air strikes and fighting around the capital’s eastern suburbs, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Clashes erupted around Damascus and in the northwestern province of Idlib, where rebels attacked highway military checkpoints and battles raged over the rebel-held town of Maaret al-Numan and the Wadi Daif army base.
Fighting also shook the northern city of Aleppo, residents said, and a motorcycle bomb attack near a Shiite Muslim shrine southeast of the capital killed at least eight people and injured dozens, the Observatory said.
At least 32 people were killed on Wednesday, including 17 civilians, said the Observatory, adding that more than 36,000 people had now died in the 19-month conflict.
An average of 165 people have been killed per day day since August 1, it said, and the overall toll includes nearly 27,000 civilians and armed rebels and more than 9,000 government soldiers.
After the heaviest wave of air strikes yet on Monday, on Tuesday a fighter jet hit targets inside Damascus for the first time, dropping four bombs on an eastern neighbourhood near to an opposition-held suburb.
Analysts say the regime has boosted air strikes in recent days in a bid to reverse opposition gains on the ground, especially in Syria’s north, and to prevent the rebels from taking control of further territory around the capital.
Visiting Beijing, UN and Arab League peace envoy Brahimi said he hoped China would play an active role in helping to bring a halt to Syria’s violence.
Greeting Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi in front of reporters, Brahimi said he hoped “China can play an active role in solving the events in Syria,” without elaborating.
Both China and Russia have exercised their veto in the UN Security Council to block resolutions aimed at putting more pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
During the talks, Yang said the situation in Syria had reached a crucial stage but a political solution was the only way to end the bloodshed.
“A political resolution is the only pragmatic option in Syria,” Yang was quoted by the state Xinhua news agency as saying.
Yang acknowledged the situation was worsening, saying it was now at “a crucial stage”.
“The international community should spare no efforts to collaborate with and support diplomatic mediation, while enhancing humanitarian assistance to Syria,” the minister said.
Brahimi, who succeeded former United Nations chief Kofi Annan after he quit over what he called a lack of international support, is due to present new proposals for resolving the conflict to the Security Council in November.
His two-day visit to China, which ends Wednesday, came after he met Russia’s foreign minister in Moscow on Monday and described the conflict as going from bad to worse.
France was set to press Russia to change tack on the conflict in talks between the two countries’ foreign and defence ministers in Paris on Wednesday.
French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius and his counterpart Sergei Lavrov and defence ministers Jean-Yves Le Drian and Anatoly Serdyukov were holding annual talks under the auspices of a joint cooperation council set up 10 years ago.
The Syrian uprising, which began in March 2011 as a peaceful protest movement inspired by the Arab Spring, has escalated into an armed insurgency.
Most of the rebels, like the population, are members of Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, while Assad’s government is dominated by his Alawite minority, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Fighting raged across Syria and an air raid struck near Damascus on Saturday after a declared ceasefire for a Muslim holiday fell apart, with at least 175 killed since it was due to take effect.
The truce for the holiday that started Friday conditionally agreed by the regime and the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) had raised the prospect of the first real halt to the fighting after 19 months of conflict.
But after fresh fighting on both Friday and Saturday, rebels and a monitoring group declared the ceasefire well and truly dead.
As clashes between President Bashar Assad’s forces and rebels continued, a Syrian warplane struck a building in a rebel-held area east of Damascus that has been the scene of heavy fighting for weeks, killing eight.
“This was the first fighter jet air strike since the declaration” of a truce for the four-day Eid al-Adha holiday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The truce is dead,” the group’s director Rami Abdel Rahman commented. “We can no longer talk of a truce.”
A rebel commander in the northern city of Aleppo said there was no doubt the ceasefire initiative, proposed by UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, had collapsed.
“This is a failure for Brahimi. This initiative was dead before it started,” Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, head of the FSA military council in Aleppo, told Agence France Presse by telephone.
He insisted the FSA had not broken the ceasefire and was only carrying out defensive actions.
“I was on several fronts yesterday and the army did not stop shelling,” Okaidi said. “Our mission is to defend the people, it is not us who are attacking.”
The Eid holiday had started Friday with a slowdown in the fighting — and state television footage of Assad smiling and chatting with worshippers at a Damascus mosque — but quickly degenerated.
The Observatory, a key monitor of the conflict, said 146 people were killed in bombings and fighting on Friday, including 53 civilians, 50 rebels and 43 members of Assad’s forces.
On Saturday, fresh violence killed at least another 29 people, the Observatory said, amid clashes and attacks in Damascus province, Aleppo, Daraa in the south and the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.
Among the dead were five killed in a car bomb attack in Deir Ezzor, it said. State television blamed the attack on “terrorists” and said the bomb had gone off in front of a church, causing significant damage.
According to the Observatory, a total of more than 35,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began as an anti-regime uprising but is now a civil war pitting mainly Sunni rebels against Assad’s regime dominated by his minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
The Britain-based Observatory relies on a countrywide network of activists, lawyers and medics in civilian and military hospitals. It says its tolls take into account civilian, military, and rebel casualties.
Assad’s forces and the FSA had both agreed to a call by Brahimi to lay down their arms for the Eid, but both also reserved the right to respond to attacks.
Brahimi had hoped the truce might lead to a more permanent ceasefire during which he could push for a political solution and bring aid to stricken areas of the country.
Okaidi, the FSA commander in Aleppo, said the ceasefire had been doomed from the start and that the international community needed to stop putting faith in the regime.
“The Syrian people have become guinea pigs. Every time there is an envoy who tries an initiative, while we know the regime will not respect it.”
(Reuters) - Opposition activists in Syria said forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad had renewed their heavy bombardment of major cities on Saturday, further undermining a truce meant to mark the Muslim Eid al-Adha religious holiday.
The bombardment came on the second day of the truce called by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi, who had hoped to use it to build broader momentum to end the 19-month-old conflict which has killed an estimated 32,000 people.
“The army began firing mortars at 7 a.m. I have counted 15 explosions in one hour and we already have two civilians killed,” said Mohammed Doumany, an activist from the Damascus suburb of Douma, where pockets of rebels are based. “I can’t see any difference from before the truce and now,” he said.
Heavy machine gunfire and the sound of mortar bombs could be heard for the second consecutive day along the Turkey-Syria border near the Syrian town of Haram, a Reuters witness said.
Activists in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor and in Aleppo, where rebels control roughly half of Syria’s most populous city, said that mortar bombs were being fired into residential areas.
Residents in Damascus aired footage of fighter jets which they said were bombing the suburbs of Erbin and Harasta.
The Syrian army said it had responded to attacks by insurgents on its positions on Friday, in line with its earlier announcement that it would cease military activity during the holiday while reserving the right to react to rebel actions.
A statement from the General Command of the Armed Forces detailed several ceasefire violations in which it said “terrorists” had fired on checkpoints and bombed a military police patrol in Aleppo.
More than 150 people were killed on Friday, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based opposition organisation with a network of sources within Syria.
Most were shot by sniper fire or in clashes, the Observatory said, highlighting a temporary drop-off in the civil war’s intensity in which Assad’s forces have been conducting daily airstrikes and heavy artillery raids in most cities.
Forty-three soldiers were killed in ambushes and during clashes, it said, while state TV reported a powerful car bomb which had killed five people in Damascus.
Violence had initially appeared to wane in some areas on Friday but truce breaches by both sides swiftly marred Syrians’ hopes of celebrating Eid al-Adha, the climax of the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca, in peace.
Brahimi’s ceasefire appeal had won widespread international support, including from Russia, China and Iran, President Assad’s main foreign allies.
But there are few signs that either side in the conflict has respected the truce. A Reuters cameraman in the Turkish border village of Besaslan in southern Hatay province said he could hear the sound of a helicopter circling on the Syrian side of the border.
Turkish ambulances were ferrying wounded people from an unofficial border crossing for treatment in Turkey.
The war in Syria pits mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, who is from the minority Alawite sect which is distantly related to Shi’ite Islam. Brahimi has warned that the conflict could suck in Sunni and Shi’ite powers across the Middle East.
Brahimi’s predecessor, former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, declared a ceasefire in Syria on April 12, but it soon fell flat, along with the rest of his six-point peace plan.
Divided international powers have been unable to stop the violence with the West condemning Assad but blaming Russia, Iran and China for supporting Damascus.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Gennady Gatilov tweeted on Saturday that “Westerners” in the United Nations Security Council had prevented the body from condemning a bomb attack in Damascus on Friday, which the Syrian government blames on rebels it labels as “terrorists.”
“(The Syria opposition’s) course for continuation of violence is self-evident,” Gatilov said.
(Reporting by Oliver Holmes, Mert Ozkan in Besaslan, Gleb Bryanski in Moscow and Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman; Editing by Andrew Osborn)