Syria gunships hit rebels, Annan worried

2012-06-11 17:43
A government aerial assault targeted the strategic river crossing town of Rastan, which has resisted repeated government offensives for months, the activists said. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

A government aerial assault targeted the strategic river crossing town of Rastan, which has resisted repeated government offensives for months, the activists said. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network)

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

Beirut - Helicopter gunships on Monday fired on rebel positions in central and northwestern Syria in a bid to snuff out the gunmen as violence killed 52 people across the country, a monitoring group said.

Helicopters strafed rebels positions in Al-Heffa, in the northwestern province of Latakia, and in Rastan, in the central province of Homs, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Regime troops have pounded Al-Heffa daily for the past week to snuff out rebel Free Syrian Army fighters deployed in the rugged countryside near the Turkish border, activists said.

Activists said Monday's assault was violent and described the situation in Al-Heffa as "terrible," although there were no immediate reports of casualties.

"Army tanks are deployed at the entrances of the town. They have never come this close before," local activist Sema Nassar told AFP in Beirut via Skype, weeping as she spoke.

"There's only one doctor working to treat the wounded in the town", of 30 000 people, said Nassar, adding that most of the residents have fled.

"Some civilians have stayed behind to help the rebel fighters defend the town," she added.

Nassar also pointed to report carried by the official SANA news agency and Syrian TV claiming that "terrorists" were planning "to carry out a massacre" in Al-Heffa and nearby Tfil.

"This is cause for great concern. It seems there are plans to kill many people," said Nassar.

Anti-regime sentiment

Government troops also used helicopters to attack rebel positions in the Homs province town of Rastan which has been under intermittent army shelling "for months," the Britain-based Observatory said.

Four civilians, including a young girl, were killed in the violence, it added.

Troops have tried to overrun Rastan since mid-May, after rebel fighters from the battered city of Homs regrouped in the town which straddles the main highway linking Damascus to the north.

In restive Qusayr, also in Homs province, another two civilians were killed, the Observatory said.

Activists in the central province of Hama told AFP that regime troops continued to target towns and villages in the region, where anti-regime sentiment was strong.

"We are worried about how much violence there might be there right now, because we have heard that regime forces are using residents as human shields," an activist who identified himself as Abu Ghazi al-Hamwi told AFP via Skype.

At least five people were killed across Hama on Monday, the Observatory said.

Elsewhere, at least nine people were killed in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, where rebels and regime forces clashed, while a blast in the northwestern city of Idlib killed a civilian and seven regime forces.

Annan concerned

Also in Idlib, 11 others were killed, including three rebels, six regime troops, two women and a teenager, according to the watchdog.

And after days of violent clashes in the capital, a booby-trapped car exploded in the central district of Barzeh killing one person, the watchdog added, while gunmen shot dead a Baath party official in the city suburbs.

The latest deaths in strife-torn Syria took place after at least 63 people were killed nationwide on Sunday - 38 civilians, 19 soldiers, and six rebel fighters - the Observatory reported.

More than 14 100 people have been killed since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March last year, including 9 862 civilians, 3 470 soldiers and 783 army defectors, according to the watchdog.

The Observatory counts rebel fighters who are not deserters from the army as civilians.

Reuters reports international mediator Kofi Annan voiced deep concern on Monday at the latest violence in Syria, citing shelling of the opposition stronghold of Homs and reports of the use of mortar bombs, helicopters and tanks in al-Haffa, near the coast.

"There are indications that a large number of civilians are trapped in these towns," Annan's spokesperson Ahmad Fawzi said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Read more on:    un  |  kofi annan  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X

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
1 comment
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/Sport

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
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.