19 Killed in Violence Acoss Syria

Posted April 25th, 2012 at 2:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Shelling by Syrian forces killed at least 12 people in Hama on Wednesday as a small group of United Nations observers continued efforts to monitor a shaky cease-fire between the government and opposition.

Rights groups say forces targeted a neighborhood in the central city which has been a flashpoint for anti-government dissent.

Earlier Wednesday, activists said forces had killed at least seven people across Syria, including four who died after forces opened fire on a bus in the northern Idlib province.

Syria's state-run SANA news agency says security forces killed one “terrorist” in Idlib province after stopping an “attempted infiltration” of armed militants from Turkey. It is unclear if the report was referring to the same incident.

The unrest unfolded as about a dozen monitors resumed their mission in Syria.

The U.N. Security Council has approved an expansion of its mission to 300 personnel. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe called for a rapid deployment of the remaining monitors.

After meeting with Syrian opposition members on Wednesday, he said the international community could not continue to accept what he called defiance from the Syrian government.

The monitoring mission in part of a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan. The plan also calls for a halt to violence. The government and the opposition, however, have blamed each other for continued attacks.

Middle East expert Joshua Landis, who lived in Syria, told VOA many citizens do not have faith that Mr. Annan's mission will resolve the unrest.

“All the Syrians I know are very distraught. They are very worried. Even those who support the regime – and I know a fair number who do – they can't see anything good coming out of this. They are getting angrier at Bashar. On the other hand, they don't like the opposition.”

The Washington Post said Wednesday that Syria's cash reserves are quickly dwindling as a result of international sanctions.

Landis, however, says the international community should not expect Mr. Assad to resign, despite mounting economic pressure and the increasing presence of monitors.

“He's gaining a few more days of his life. The moment he gives up, he's going to be a dead man. He's going to be hung from the yardarm along with a lot of people around him. So, he's fighting for his life.

The United Nations estimates that more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria's 13-month crackdown on the revolt, while activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

Diplomats said Wednesday that the Security Council intends to make Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, the head of the advance team of observers, the head of the full observer mission.