Activists Accuse Syria of Renewed Shelling

Posted April 14th, 2012 at 8:40 am (UTC-5)
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Shells rained down and smoke rose from the already battered central Syrian city of Homs Saturday, raising new questions about the country's already tenuous cease-fire.

Activists say Syrian government forces attacked Homs in an apparent effort to either drive out or capture all rebel forces. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several civilians were injured and that others may have died.

Opposition activists elsewhere also accused government forces of launching more attacks on rebel-held areas, while the regime of President Bashar al-Assad blamed rebels and terrorists for the increased violence.

Word of the shelling comes as the United Nations Security Council prepares to vote on sending a small team of military observers to Syria to monitor the shaky cease-fire.

The plan calls for the government to withdraw forces from urban areas and end its violent crackdown on dissent. It also calls for rebels to stop fighting.

Brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, the truce went into effect Thursday, but it began to unravel quickly. Syrian security forces shot and killed at least five protesters Friday, and clashes erupted near the Turkish border.

Syrian refugees in Turkey, like Velid Abdin, expressed their skepticism that President Assad could be trusted.

“We said before that this government is lying. We don't trust them. They keep lying all the time. The government won't abide by the cease-fire because their aim is to start a war and pull us into it. After the cease-fire started, they bombed Khirbet el-Joz, Damascus and Zabadani with fighter aircrafts. They didn't pull back their tanks or aircrafts. This government doesn't keep to its word.”

Ahmad Zerzuni worried things will only get worse.

“These things shouldn't be happening in anywhere in the world. It will lead to a civil war. A civil war may break out at any moment.”

Mass opposition protests swelled in several flashpoint areas across Syria. Activists say government forces fired on demonstrators at several locations, including Hama.

The Syrian government said it would only respond to attacks launched by armed militants.

The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's unrest over the past year.