Homs, #Syria: The Hidaya Mosque in Bayada was attacked by missiles today 17/4/2012
Shelling in #Syria as U.N. Monitors Begin Work
BEIRUT—An advance team of U.N. observers on Monday was working with Syrian officials on the ground rules for monitoring the country’s 5-day old cease-fire, which appeared to be rapidly unraveling Monday as regime forces pounded the opposition stronghold of Homs with artillery shells and mortars, activists said.
Even though the overall level of violence across Syria has dropped significantly, government attacks over the weekend raised new doubts about President Bashar al-Assad’s commitment to special envoy Kofi Annan’s plan to end 13 months of violence and launch talks on the country’s political future.
The advance team of six U.N. monitors arrived in Damascus Sunday night. Mr. Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the team, led by Moroccan Col. Ahmed Himmiche, met Monday with Syrian Foreign Ministry officials to discuss ground rules, including what freedom of movement the observers would have.
Mr. Fawzi said the remaining 25 observers are expected to arrive in the coming days. He said in a statement issued in Geneva on Monday that the mission “will start with setting up operating headquarters, and reaching out to the Syrian government and the opposition forces so that both sides fully understand the role of the UN observers.”
“We will start our mission as soon as possible and we hope it will be a success,” Col. Himmiche told the Associated Press as he left a Damascus hotel along with his team Monday morning.
Two activist groups, the Local Coordination Committees and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said intense shelling of Homs resumed early Monday for the third consecutive day.
“Government forces trying to take control of Homs neighborhoods are pounding the districts of Khaldiyeh and Bayada with mortar fire,” the Observatory said.
Both groups said two people were killed in Hama in central Syria on Monday when security forces opened fire on their car.
Western countries and the Syrian opposition are skeptical Mr. Assad will abide by Mr. Annan’s six-point plan for a cease-fire and the weekend pounding of Homs along with scattered violence in other areas has reinforced those doubts.
Mr. Assad accepted the truce deal at the prodding of his main ally, Russia, but his compliance has been limited. He has halted shelling of rebel-held neighborhoods, with the exception of Homs, but ignored calls to pull troops out of urban centers, apparently for fear of losing control over a country his family has ruled for four decades. Rebel fighters have also kept up attacks, including shooting ambushes.
Syria’s state-run newspaper Tishrin said Monday that Damascus is “satisfied” with the U.N. resolution to send observers to the country because it respects Syrian sovereignty. The paper added that the resolution says all parties were responsible for halting violence. “This is a clear-cut international recognition of the crimes and assaults committed by armed groups,” it said.
The international community hopes U.N. observers will be able to stabilize the cease-fire, which formally took effect Thursday. The U.N. Security Council approved the observer mission unanimously on Saturday. A larger team of 250 observers requires more negotiations between the U.N. and the Syrian government next week.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed serious concern over the Syrian government’s continued shelling of Homs and said “the whole world is watching with skeptical eyes” whether the cease-fire can be sustained.
“It is important—absolutely important that the Syrian government should take all the measures to keep this cessation of violence,” he told reporters in Brussels after meeting Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo on Sunday.
Mr. Ban said he hoped that once the full monitoring team is on the ground “there will be calm and stability and peace without any violence.”
Since the cease-fire began, each side has accused the other of violations.
Syria’s state-run news agency SANA has reported rebel attacks targeting checkpoints and army officers, while opposition activists said regime troops and their allied shabiha militiamen continued arrest raids and mistreatment of those in detention.
Also Monday, a Hamas official said a senior member of the Palestinian group, Mustafa Lidawi, was abducted over the weekend near Damascus. In the past, Mr. Lidawi had served as the Hamas representative in Iran and Lebanon.
Mr. Lidawi opposed a recent power-sharing agreement between the Islamic militant group Hamas and its Western-backed rival, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and was seen as a supporter of Mr. Assad’s regime. Until recently, Hamas’ top leaders were based in Damascus, but became increasingly critical of Mr. Assad’s crackdown on the uprising and decided to leave the country.
Hamas asked the Syrian authorities to try to find Mr. Lidawi, said a senior official of the group in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the contacts. Mr. Lidawi’s family told Hamas officials he was abducted Saturday.
Source: The Wall Street Journal
#Syria: Army resumes Homs shelling ahead of @UN monitors’ arrival
The United Nations Security Council voted unanimously in favour of dispatching a team of observers, with a six-strong team due to arrive tonight.
UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi said the monitors would be ‘on the ground in blue helmets tomorrow’, with around 30 more observers to be recruited from the region immediately ahead of a full quota of 250 by the end of the week.
But the Bashar al-Assad regime’s commitment to the ceasefire has come under fresh suspicion after activists reported heavy shelling of residential neighbourhoods in Homs, with at least three deaths reported.
The Local Coordination Committees activist network said shells were falling at the rate of six every minute in Khaldiyeh, with artillery fire also reported in Bayada, Jouret el-Shayah, Qarabees and Qusour.
The claims are impossible to verify as foreign journalists are banned from Syria.
But a Homs-based activists contacted via Skype who gave his name only as Yazan said: ‘What ceasefire? There’s an explosion every five to six minutes. I can also hear the sound of a reconnaissance plane. It’s flying very low.’
Describing rubble-strewn roads and badly-damaged apartment blocks, he continued: ‘If you saw Homs right now you wouldn’t recognise it. You walk around and it’s not unusual to find dead people in cars on the street.’
The ceasefire negotiated by former UN secretary general Mr Annan began last week, but a precondition of rebels and government forces withdrawing from heavily-populated areas was not respected.
His six-point plan calls for political talks between the regime and the opposition to eventually begin, with analysts painting the peace deal as the last diplomatic solution for the crisis in Syria sparked by the regime’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protests that began 13 months ago that has seen at least 9,000 people killed.
The deployment of international observers to Syria was the first time the UN Security Council had come together on Syria after China followed Russia’s leading in backing Moscow’s key ally in the Middle East.
Mr Annan had said he was ‘very relieved and happy’ about the vote.
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon added: ‘I will make sure that this advanced observer mission will be dispatched as soon as possible and try to make concrete proposals by April 18 for an official observer mission.’
#Syria, bombing in neighborhood Bayada!
Bayada massacre neighborhood 30/03/2012 #Syria
Assad’s Army bombarding Al Bayada, Homs #Syria 25/3/2012
#Syria - Assad Bombs Houses in
Bayada with Artillery - Homs City
3-23-12 Ethnic Cleansing of Sunnis
19/03/12 Protest in Bayada, Homs. #Syria
Fierce clashes erupt in #Syria
March 9, 2012, 9:23 pm
Fierce clashes have erupted between deserters and army troops in the central Syrian province of Homs.
“Heavy clashes were raging at the outskirts of the Rastan and al-Kussair areas between members of the Free Syrian Army and government troops,” said Abu Imad, a Syrian activist based in northern Lebanon, on Friday.
Black smoke could be seen billowing from the border region in northern Lebanon, he said.
The Syrian Local Co-ordination Committees, an opposition group documenting violence across Syria, said Syrian troops were bombarding areas in Karam al-Zeitoun, al-Khalidiyeh and al-Bayada in the restive province.
Activists reported that security forces on Thursday killed 62 people across the country.
They added that the army has sent reinforcements to the northwestern province of Idlib, where activists have been fearing an assault similar to the one that devastated the Baba Amr neighbourhood of Homs.
“Tanks are moving in the village of al-Najia following heavy shelling of the area,” activist Mohamed Abdullah said.
The province, near the Turkish border, is a stronghold for the opposition Free Syrian Army.
News coming out of Syria cannot be verified because journalists are barred from entering restive areas.
Meanwhile, the opposition called for massive protests across the country against calls by the UN-Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, for dialogue with the government of President Bashar al-Assad. Annan, a former UN secretary general, was due in Syria on Saturday.
“How can we carry out a dialogue with a regime that is still killing our women and children?” said Omar Homsi, an activist in Homs.
UN humanitarian chief Valerie Amos, who is on a separate mission to Syria, said on Thursday that she was “devastated” by the destruction she had seen in the Baba Amr district.
State-run media said the damage Amos had seen in Homs was carried out by “terrorist gangs”, which the government has been blaming for the unrest in the country since mid-March 2011.
The violence has killed more than 7,500 people, according to UN estimates.
26/01/12 Homs, Bayada: Soldiers defect and join FSA, to cheering crowds. Note: looks similar to previous defection video posted, but different area given,. I f anyone can clarify would be grateful.
2/12/11 Protest in #Bayada #Homs today with sad chanting “Haram 3alek” #Syria