Renewed Shelling in Syria Ahead of UN Vote

Posted April 14th, 2012 at 10:55 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian security forces killed at least five people on Saturday as the U.N. Security Council was decided whether to send a team of observers to Syria to monitor the shaky cease-fire there.

Rights groups and activists say forces opened fire on a funeral procession in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least four people. Other reports of unrest included a government shelling attack on the central city of Homs that killed at least one person.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says two soldiers were killed in a rebel attack in the southern Daraa province.

The U.N. Security Council is expected to vote Saturday on a proposed deployment in Syria of a small team of truce observers.

The plan, brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, calls for government forces to withdraw from urban areas and an end to the government's violent crackdown on dissent. It also calls on the rebels to stop fighting.

The truce began unraveling shortly after it took effect on Thursday, with both sides reporting violence and deaths.

On Friday, activists said government forces fired on civilians as mass opposition protests swelled in several flashpoint areas across Syria.

On Saturday, Turkish foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal expressed concern about reports of violence against protesters.

“The threat of violence is still there because the Annan plan is also envisaging that the Syrian people should be able to do peaceful demonstrations, and what we are receiving is reports that there are peaceful demonstrations and people are shot at.”

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

On Saturday, a Syrian state-run media report blamed “an escalation of terrorist groups” for rising military and civilian deaths.

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.”

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