Children among dead in Syria air strike

2012-09-03 13:00

Damascus - A Syrian warplane bombed a building in the northern rebel-held town of Al-Bab killing 18 people on Monday, a watchdog said, as Arab Gulf monarchies slammed Damascus for using heavy weapons against civilians.

With violence raging and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reporting more than 5 000 people killed across Syria in August alone, new international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi admitted that his mission was "nearly impossible".

The air strike killed at least 10 men, six women and two children, the Britain-based Observatory said.

"The victims included two children, a girl and a boy," Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said. "They died when the fighter jet bombed the building where they were sheltered."

The army also pounded several districts of the nearby city of Aleppo, the Observatory said, more than six weeks after the start of what President Bashar Assad's regime warned would be "the mother of all battles" in Syria's commercial hub.

The airstrike on Al-Bab followed a series of attacks on towns and villages in the Aleppo countryside, as regime forces fight to break rebel supply lines into the city.

Bloodiest month

The Observatory reported a total of at least 132 people killed across Syria on Sunday - 96 civilians, nine rebel fighters and 27 soldiers.

The watchdog, which has a network of activists on the ground, said August marked the bloodiest month in Syria since the uprising against Assad's regime erupted in March last year, with at least 5 440 people killed.

According to the Observatory, at least 26 283 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt began in March last year – 18 695 civilians, 1 079 defectors and 6 509 troops.

Concerned by the escalating violence, monarchies in the Gulf on Sunday sharply criticised Syria's regime for deploying heavy weapons against its own civilians and urged a peaceful transition of power in the country.

The six members of the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) at a meeting in Jeddah also urged the international community to "assume their responsibilities and take measures to protect civilians" in Syria.

The GCC - which comprises Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait - in a statement issued after the meeting in the Saudi city condemned "the ongoing massacres which are due to the obstinacy of the regime in using heavy weapons, including planes and tanks" against civilians.

Nothing personal

Rights watchdogs have expressed growing concern about deteriorating conditions in areas under a protracted army siege, including parts of Aleppo and third city Homs.

Jihad Makdissi, a spokesperson for Assad's embattled government, announced that newly-appointed peace envoy Brahimi would "soon" travel to Damascus, expressing confidence that "he will listen to us".

In an interview with NBN channel - the mouthpiece of Lebanese pro-Damascus party, Amal - Makdissi blamed the international community for the ongoing conflict.

"The issue is not personal, and has nothing to do with the envoy," said Makdissi.

"We tried Mr Kofi Annan. And all the reasons that led to his initiative's unhappy ending were not Syrian. The main reason was a lack of international consensus."

Brahimi himself gave a deeply pessimistic view of the task ahead of him, in an interview with the BBC.

Weight of responsibility

"I know how difficult it is - how nearly impossible. I can't say impossible – [it is] nearly impossible," he said.

He said he was "scared of the weight of responsibility. People are already saying people are dying and what are you doing?"

Brahimi, who took over as international peace envoy on Saturday, earlier told Al-Jazeera satellite channel that "change is necessary, indispensable, unavoidable".

He said his position was to engage all the parties and he would not be drawn on Assad's future.

Brahimi, who will formally take the reins in a handover ceremony with outgoing envoy Annan and UN chief Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday, has been holding meetings at the UN headquarters in New York.

Annan announced he was stepping down last month, blaming divisions in the international community for the failure of his April six-point peace plan.

  • shane.loxton - 2012-09-04 14:39

    One can not but help wonder how acurrate this report is considering the latest revelation of false media reporting on previous reports of Government killings. n an extraordinary account of the Daraya massacre by veteran journalist Robert Fisk, eyewitnesses reveal that it was U.S.-backed FSA rebels and not the Syrian Army who were responsible for the slaughter of 245 men, women and children. The massacre, which took place last weekend, was instantly blamed on President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces by the global media despite video footage from the scene showing victims welcoming the presence of Syrian Army troops and blaming the violence on armed rebels. Those eyewitness accounts have now been verified thanks to the courageous journalism of veteran reporter Robert Fisk, who is risking his life in his role as one of the few impartial media observers inside Syria. In an article for the London Independent entitled Inside Daraya – how a failed prisoner swap turned into a massacre, Fisk reveals how he was able to talk to eyewitnesses independently of Syrian officials, all of whom said the violence was carried out by armed rebels before the Syrian Army even arrived in the town, which is five miles outside Damascus.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-04 17:01

      Everyone knows the US is not backing the Free Syria Army to any significant degree. Ask the FSA. They will tell you. They will also tell you how disappointed they are, even angry. They will also tell you that they resort to similar awful tactics as the Assad regime just to survive. Not an excuse. A fact. Desperation can do this. Have you ever felt desperate? Has your family ever been threatened, harmed to the same extent as Syrians and their families? It would be altogether different were the freer world to stand upon strong, clear principles.

      shane.loxton - 2012-09-04 18:17

      Lol fred u live in your own world, try explain this and I dare u to follow the link at the end and challange that:- A militant who fought alongside Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan and is now the leader of a group affiliated with Al-Qaeda in South Yemen has struck a deal with the United States and Saudi Arabia to send 5,000 Al-Qaeda fighters into Syria according to reports out of the Middle East. Tariq al-Fadhli, jihadist leader of the Southern Yemen insurgency and a man personally trained by Bin Laden, has successfully negotiated with U.S. and Saudi officials to send 5,000 jihadist fighters via Turkey to aid Syrian rebels in the attempted overthrow of President Bashar Al-Assad, reports AlAlam. The report was also picked up by In a newspaper interview, al-Fadhli revealed that he had agreed to transfer 5,000 militants from the southern Yemen cities of Zanzibar and Jaar “to Syria in order to fight in war being waged by armed groups, including the Al Qaeda-linked groups against the Syrian regime.” The militants, who refer to themselves as “supporters of Shariah,” will join other bands of Al-Qaeda fighters who have swarmed into Syria from Libya, Iraq and Turkey with the aid of NATO powers and Gulf states. In a July 30 report, the London Guardian admitted that Al-Qaeda fighters were commanding Syrian rebels and teaching them how to build bombs

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-09-04 20:18

      Again, you're building reality around the statements of a Jihadist terrorist. Not smart. At all.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-04 20:18

    Shame, By Raymondo have received the following press release by the Local Coordination Committee (LCC) of Daraya , the town in which a massacrer has ben committed few days ago. The Daraya LCC press release is a response to an article published in the “Belfast Telegraph” on Aug. 29th 2012, by Mr. Robert Fisk. It implies that the Belfast Telegraph article was unbalanced, biased, and influenced by the presence of the regime army and security forces who accompanied Mr. Fisk, and provided him with ”witnesses” around whom he built his report without any questioning of their legitimacy. It is not the first time that Mr. Fisk has been criticised for inadequacy and the lack of professionalism in recent times. An article published on last month accused Mr. Fisk of committing elementary mistakes when analysing the situation in Syria. Daraya Coordination Committee

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-09-04 21:51

    SHAME!!!!, "Fisk reflected this view of the political prisons because he was just too embedded in the events, and couldn't see the wider vision; he was indoctrinated," Yassin told Ahram Online from Syria. Yassin, who spent 16 years in military prisons in Syria, says that Fisk's description is not related to the facts on the ground. "He visited a prison where all the detainees he met were extremist jihadists who came to Syria from Algeria and Turkey to make big explosions, and when intelligence agencies arrest them, they do not torture them as we may expect. One of them told Fisk that he’s fine, and thanks god for that; another one said that he was tortured for only one day," commented Yassin. "The detainees are Salafist jihadists and yet the officer leaves Fisk alone to interview them freely." Yassin added, marking the friendly behaviour that Fisk asserted he witnessed from the guards. "Personally, I was jailed for 16 years, for minor charges. The imprisonment conditions were worse; no Western or local journalist could ever have visited me nor any human rights activists. This applies to everyone who was arrested during the revolution, the thing that Fisk never revealed," Saleh argued. The only explanation of the access Fisk got to the prisons is that the Syrian regime guaranteed that Fisk isn’t going to reflect this negative image, and made their arrangements with Fisk, who has allowed himself to be misled, according to Saleh.

  • daniella.karalis - 2012-09-20 17:23

    oh wow, just a few more than murdered in sa over the same time

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