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Ongoing violence places tough hitches ahead of UN observers

04-26-2012 09:38 BJT Special Report:Crisis in Syria |

DAMASCUS, April 25 (Xinhua) -- At least 30 people were killed on Wednesday across Syria, placing tough hitches ahead of the UN observer mission, the advance team of which is already on ground to establish liaison with all concerned parties and prepare the atmosphere for a larger mission.

Violence escalated dramatically on Wednesday as reports of kidnapping, killing and bombing have grabbed the headlines of Syria's mainstream media, which represents a tough challenge to the UN observers, who arrived in Syria 10 days ago to monitor the cease-fire truce brokered by international envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan.

In central Hama province, at least 16 people were killed and 12 others were wounded in the blast of an explosive device that went off at the Mesha'a al-Tayyar neighborhood, state-run SANA news agency reported, adding that the device went off while "terrorists " were preparing it at a house in the impoverished slum.

The blast shattered six houses and damaged others in the area, SANA said, adding that children and women were among those killed. It quoted an official source as saying that civil defense forces are still carrying out rescue operations in that area.

On the contrary, the activists' network, Local Coordination Committees, accused the Syrian troops of being behind the incident in al-Tayyar area, saying that 68 people were killed after the troops committed a "massacre" there. It added that 16 children were among the dead.

The activists' report could not be independently verified.

Meanwhile, SANA said a booby-trapped car was detonated Wednesday in the eastern province of Deir al-Zour, killing two people.

In the Damascus suburb of Douma, Mohammed al-Khadraa, a volunteer at the Syrian Red Crescent, was killed Wednesday while helping in distributing relief aid to restive people in that flashpoint, SANA said, adding that three others were injured.

Also on Wednesday, a lieutenant colonel was shot dead while heading to his post in a suburb of the southern province of Daraa, as the authorities found a body of another officer dumped also in Daraa countryside, said SANA, adding that three bodies of civilians were found with torture marks on them.

Moreover, a suicide bomber blew up a booby-trapped car Wednesday at one of law-enforcement checkpoints in the northern province of Idlib, killing one agent and wounding two others, SANA reported.

Another four people were killed and six others injured when an armed group targeted a passenger bus heading from Aleppo to Hama.

The Syrian government reported a surge in murder and kidnapping by armed groups in Syria since the arrival of the UN observers.

Syria's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants Faisal Mekdad has recently said that armed terrorist groups and countries that support them did not commit to the peace plan of Annan, stressing that national dialogue is the only way out of the crisis.

However, opposition activists accused the government of hiding tanks away from the eyes of UN observers, adding that the regime is evasive and is playing the game of mouse and cat with them by moving tanks and heavy weapons from the streets into government installations, along with the use of gunshots to prevent demonstrators from reaching the UN mission during an inspection tour to the restive central city of Hama.

They charged that the Syrian regime is still ignoring its obligations made to the international community regarding the cease-fire and the withdrawal of military vehicles out of the cities, adding that the Syrian forces had shelled the Damascus suburb of Douma and the northern province of Idlib, leaving tens of people killed since the arrival of UN observers.

After touring Douma Wednesday, Neeraj Singh, the spokesman of the advance team of UN observers, said "we found that there is a need for de-escalating the situation there (in Douma)."

Syria has repeatedly declared its commitment to Annan's six- point plan but also accused "armed groups" of escalating their violent acts to stymie Annan's efforts.

Annan's plan, fully backed by the international community, calls for the withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from population centers, a daily halt in fighting for the delivery of humanitarian aid and treatment for the wounded, as well as talks between the government and opposition.

To show its good intentions, the Syrian government said it has pulled out heavy machinery from the cities and released hundreds of detainees, whose hands it said were not smeared with the blood of the Syrians.

Russian foreign ministry has recently said the deployment of international observers is of great importance for the launch of a peaceful settlement in Syria, adding that all players are required to assist in launching a political dialogue and the establishment of a pluralistic democratic system.

Still, some other parties raise concerns and even affirmations that the UN mission in Syria will be a deadlock.

The United States questioned the merits of Annan's plan and alleged that the Syrian regime is continuing its flouting of the plan.

Susan Rice, U.S. permanent representative to the UN, said the UN mission is "serious and involves exceptional risks," calling on Damascus to "seize this opportunity to find a political solution to the crisis before it is too late."

"We will monitor day and night," Rice said.

However, Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki said in an interview with the al-Hayat newspaper that he does not expect the success of the plan, pointing out that "the success rate is less than three percent."

Others sounded less pessimistic and saying that for the mission to succeed, there should be more observers in the cities.

Mohammad Habash, an ex-member of the Syrian parliament, said the Homs city needs alone a hundred observers and not only two.

"Observers should convince all the parties to halt violence and fighting and resort to the language of dialogue," Habash said.

Other analysts said it is premature to judge the UN mission, pinning hopes on the arrival of more UN observers over the next few days.

Currently, there are 13 observers on ground in Syria, four of whom were dispatched evenly to Homs and Hama. The number of the team is to grow to 100 within the next month and eventually would reach up to 300 in accordance to the UN Security Council's recent resolution.

On daily bases, the monitors tour several hotspots across Syria to pave the way for the full mission.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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