Fighting ruptures ragged Syrian ceasefire

2012-10-26 12:14
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Beirut - Fighting erupted in a Damascus suburb and around an army base in northern Syria on Friday, opposition sources said, as a truce marking a Muslim holiday crumbled almost before it had begun.

Three people were killed by tank fire and snipers in Harasta, a town near Damascus, activists said.

The Syrian military had said it would hold fire on Friday morning following an appeal by international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi for a pause in fighting which has killed 32 000 people and which threatens to draw regional powers into the conflict.

But violations by both sides swiftly marred the truce.

Rebels in a northern town near the Turkish border said a sniper had killed one of their fighters early on Friday and a Reuters journalist there heard the sound of four tank rounds.

"We don't believe the ceasefire will work," rebel commander Basel Eissa said. "There's no Eid for us rebels on the front line. The only Eid we can celebrate will be liberation."

Conditional acceptance

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels were trying to storm the Wadi al-Daif army base, which is less than 1km from the Damascus-Aleppo highway, and that troops had fired artillery at a nearby village.

Citing opposition activists, the British-based group also said the army had fired six rockets at the besieged Khalidiya district of Homs, wounding two people and damaging houses.

President Bashar Assad's forces had announced conditional acceptance of a cease fire on Thursday night.

"On the occasion of the blessed Eid al-Adha, the general command of the army and armed forces announces a halt to military operations on the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, from Friday morning ... until Monday," the army said.

But it warned it would respond to any rebel attacks, or moves to exploit the truce to reinforce or resupply insurgents.

A commander from the rebel Free Syrian Army had said his fighters would also honour the ceasefire but demanded Assad meet opposition demands for the release of thousands of detainees.

Demonstrations broken up

Some Islamist fighters, including the Nusra Front, dismissed the truce before it even came into effect, but after a night of clashes in Aleppo, Damascus and the west of the country, activists had reported an initial lull in hostilities.

One exception was the southern town of Inkhil, where three people were wounded as they tried to protest after special prayers in a mosque to mark the start of the Eid, according to Rami Abdulrahman, head of the Syrian Observatory.

Several other demonstrations in the southern province of Deraa, cradle of the protests which erupted against Assad in March last year, were also broken up, Abdulrahman said.

Assad himself, who has vowed to defeat what he says are Islamist fighters backed by Syria's enemies abroad, was shown on state television attending Eid prayers at a Damascus mosque.

Damascus residents said on Thursday night troops stationed on a mountain overlooking Damascus targeted Hajar al-Aswad, a poor district inhabited by refugees from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

"Consecutive artillery volleys from Qasioun shook my home," said an engineer who lives in al-Muhajereen district on a foothill of the mountain, giving his name only as Omar.

Doubts

The fighting pits mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, from the minority Alawite sect which is distantly related to Shi'ite Islam. Brahimi has warned that the conflict could suck in Sunni and Shi'ite powers across the Middle East.

Qassem Saadeddine, head of the military council in Homs province and spokesperson for the FSA joint command, said on Thursday his fighters were committed to the truce, but demanded the release of detainees by Friday morning.

Abu Moaz, spokesperson for Ansar al-Islam, which includes several brigades fighting in and around Damascus, said the Islamist group doubted Assad's forces would observe the truce, though it might suspend operations if they did.

"We do not care about this truce. We are cautious. If the tanks are still there and the checkpoints are still there then what is the truce?" he asked.

Brahimi's predecessor, former UN chief Kofi Annan, declared a ceasefire in Syria on 12 April, but it soon became a dead letter, along with the rest of his six-point peace plan.

Violence has intensified since then, with daily death tolls compiled by opposition monitoring groups often exceeding 200.

UN aid agencies have geared up to take advantage of any window of opportunity provided by a ceasefire to go to areas hard to access due to fighting, a UN official in Geneva said.

The UN refugee agency UNHCR said it had prepared emergency kits for distribution for up to 13 000 families - an estimated 65 000 people - in Homs and the northeastern city of Hassaka.

Read more on:    un  |  kofi annan  |  bashar assad  |  lakhdar brahimi  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
3 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Music

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Up to 40% off fashion accessories

Save up to 40% on selected handbags, purses, watches, jewellery and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R2000 on top electronics

Get every day mind bowing savings on top electronics. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

As seen on TV - New book releases at only R199 each

Get mind blowing book savings on new titles. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to 50% on Women’s month treats!

Celebrate the awesome women in your life with awesome treats like beauty products, fashion accessories, bestselling books, electronics and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 60% off - clearance sale!

Save up to 60% on appliances, books, electronics, toys, movies and more. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The virtual world can be very tempting to escape into but focus on also being present and keeping your feet anchored in reality....read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.