Syrian government forces fire upon neighborhoods
Recent shelling threatens ceasefire agreed upon by Syrian president
Syrian government forces have reportedly shelled residential
neighborhoods dominated by opposition fighters in the central city of
Homs. The recent shelling came just before the arrival in Damascus of an
advance team of U.N. observers. The latest violence is threatening the
truce to which President Bashar al-Assad and rebels fighting to topple
him have previously agreed.
'What ceasefire? There's an explosion every five to six minutes,' Yazan, a Homs-based activist said via Skype. 'I can also hear the sound of a reconnaissance plane. It's flying very low.'
Annan's spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi says that the group of six observers were due to arrive and would be "on the ground in blue helmets" this week.
Activists in the meantime say that Syrian security forces are also shelling the village of Kherbet al-Jouz in Idlib, where there is a heavy presence of the Free Syria Army. There are also reports of gunfire near the Turkish border. It's not clear which side was responsible for the gunfire there.
The Syrian government restricts access of foreign observers, including journalists, making it difficult to verify reports of violence independently.
A Syrian security source has accused "terrorist groups" of being behind the recent attacks. According to the official SANA news agency, they say the assaults have increased since the ceasefire to end violence was announced last week.
"Since the announcement of an end to military operations, terrorist attacks have increased by dozens, causing a large loss of life," SANA said. "Armed terrorists" have reportedly killed five people in ambushes around the country this weekend.
The U.N. observers were deployed after the Security Council in New York voted on Saturday to authorize an advance team of observers to help maintain Syria's ceasefire.
The resolution has given the 15-nation Security Council its first united front since the uprising against Assad began 13 months ago.
It called for immediate deployment of up to 30 monitors, to be followed by a larger contingent of up to 250 once the situation has stabilized.
Fawzi said the council would be asked to approve a full mission of about 250 observers, based on a report by Ban Ki-moon, the U.N. secretary-general.
"What ceasefire? There's an explosion every five to six minutes," Yazan, a Homs-based activist said via Skype. "I can also hear the sound of a reconnaissance plane. It's flying very low."
Homs-based activists said other districts including Bayada, Jurat al-Shayah, al-Qarabis and al-Qusour were also being bombarded.
"If you saw Homs right now you wouldn't recognize it," Yazan said, describing rubble-strewn roads and badly damaged apartment blocs.
"You walk around and it's not unusual to find dead people in cars on the street," he said, giving only his first name for fear of retribution.
© 2012, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Syria, ceasefire, Homs, U.N., Idlib
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