Clashes Mar Truce in Syria

Posted October 26th, 2012 at 4:45 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

A four-day ceasefire in Syria to observe the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha went into effect Friday, but activists reported some clashes between government forces and rebels.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said battles between rebels and government forces continued in Idlib province past morning prayers Friday, when both sides had agreed they would start a temporary truce.

The Syrian army said Thursday it would observe the cease-fire but would respond to any rebel attacks.

Three people were reported wounded Friday when security forces fired on protesters in southern Deraa province.

Syrian President Bashir al-Assad was shown in a rare television appearance, mingling with worshippers attending Friday's prayers to mark the start of the Muslim holiday.

The military said Thursday it will act if “terrorist” groups try to reinforce their positions during the cease-fire. The army also warned neighboring countries against granting safe passage to rebel fighters.

A commander for the rebel Free Syrian Army said his fighters would honor the truce, but would respond to any attacks. Both sides have violated previous cease-fires after agreeing to them.

As regional tensions simmer, Saudi Arabia moved to expel three employees from the Syrian consulate in Jeddah. A Saudi Foreign Ministry statement did not offer details, but said the three were told to leave the country for activities “incompatible” with their work.

The largely Sunni Muslim Saudi kingdom closed its embassy in Damascus in March, just weeks after expelling Syria's ambassador. For its part, Syria and its ally Shi'ite Muslim Iran have accused Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states of fueling Syria's civil war by supporting rebels.

Earlier Thursday, anti-government forces took control of several neighborhoods in the northern city of Aleppo. Foreign observers said nine civilians were killed and 15 wounded by mortar fire in the area.

Opposition activists reported shelling by government forces Thursday near Damascus, and in Daraa province.