Syrian forces hit rebels

2012-04-05 08:50

Damascus - Syrian forces pressed a crackdown on rebel bastions on Wednesday despite a truce pledge, with the United States voicing doubts that President Bashar al-Assad will comply with a peace plan deadline.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops stormed and shelled several towns or villages, with 52 people killed around the country, including 28 civilians, with most of the casualties in the city and province of Homs.

While the US State Department criticised the "intensification" of violence against opponents of the regime, Russia said the opposition would never defeat Assad's army even if "armed to the teeth."

Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, told AFP that "from the Turkish border in the northeast to Daraa in the south, military operations are ongoing."

"Tanks are still shelling or storming towns and villages before going back to their bases," he added. "That does not mean they are withdrawing."

Assaults

The assaults were taking place despite Assad's pledge to implement by April 10 a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Former UN chief Annan said Monday that Assad had agreed to start "immediately" pulling out troops under a six-point peace plan.

However US State Department spokesperson Mark Toner told reporters in Washington Wednesday that "we've yet to be convinced that they have any intention of complying with the April 10 deadline".

The Observatory has charged that the army was torching and looting rebel houses across the country in a campaign that could amount to crimes against humanity.

The Syrian National Council, the main opposition bloc, accused the regime of carrying out "a policy of genocide against the Syrian people" and called for immediate pressure from the international community for a pullback of tanks.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, predicted that under-equipped rebel forces would never be able to defeat Syria's powerful military.

Armed to the teeth

"It is clear as day that even if the Syrian opposition is armed to the teeth, it will not be able to defeat the government's army," the Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying while on a visit to the ex-Soviet nation of Azerbaijan.

"Instead, there will be carnage that lasts many, many years - mutual destruction."

Lavrov said two groups of Syrian opposition representatives would visit Moscow in the coming days and that Russia would try to convince them that it wanted to help resolve the year-long crisis.

With international concern growing, a draft UN Security Council statement was drawn up asking Syria to respect the April 10 deadline, according to a copy seen by AFP.

The draft also urges the Syrian opposition to cease hostilities within 48 hours after Assad's regime makes good on its pledges.

Video conference

It calls on all parties to respect a two-hour daily humanitarian pause, as called for in Annan's plan.

Negotiations on the text - distributed by Britain, France and the United States - began on Tuesday. France's UN envoy Gerard Araud said he hoped it would be adopted late on Wednesday or on Thursday.

Russia, Assad's veto-wielding ally in the council, has rejected the idea of a deadline, with Lavrov saying "ultimatums and artificial deadlines rarely help matters."

Annan is to address the UN General Assembly on Thursday about the crackdown.

General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz al-Nasser convened an informal meeting for 10:00 for Annan to provide via video conference an update on the situation and the "progress of his mission."

Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict

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
4 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
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.