Syria: Blast as Ban warns of pivotal moment

2012-05-22 22:27

Damascus - Syrian security forces carried out a spate of raids in Damascus on Tuesday after a deadly bombing hit the capital and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon warned the search for peace was at a "pivotal moment".

State television said the late Monday blast hit a restaurant in the Qaboon neighbourhood of the capital. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said five people were killed.

In all, at least 59 people were killed nationwide on Monday, including 31 loyalist troops who died in clashes with rebel fighters, the Observatory said.

The bloodshed raged despite the deployment of a UN military observer mission to oversee a promised ceasefire that has been breached daily since it went into force on 12 April.

Gunfire erupted as a team of UN observers visited the town of Busayra in Deir Ezzor province in the northeast, activists reached by Skype said.

"Unconfirmed reports indicate there are two dead and several wounded," one activist said.

Fierce clashes

The Observatory said dozens of people were arrested in the pre-dawn raids in several suburbs of the capital, including Douma, Harasta and Barzen.

It said powerful blasts were heard overnight in a number of provincial cities, including central Hama, northern Aleppo and the coastal cities of Banias and Latakia.

The watchdog said there were also fierce clashes between regime forces and rebels in the town of Kfar Roma in Idlib province in the northwest.

Demonstrations broke out at dawn in several neighbourhoods of Aleppo, the country's second city and commercial hub which until recently had been largely spared the unrest shaking the country since March last year.

One person was killed by gunfire in Nouaymeh, a town in the southern province of Daraa, the Observatory said.

The UN chief issued a new warning of the dangers of all-out civil war as the 14-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's regime has turned into an armed rebellion.

No Nato involvement

"The secretary general said we were at a pivotal moment in the search for a peaceful settlement to the crisis and that he remained extremely troubled about the risk of an all-out civil war," a spokesperson for Ban said at a Nato summit in Chicago on Monday.

Nato, which undertook a major air war in Libya to back rebels who fought Muammar Gaddafi's forces last year, has said it has "no intention" of taking military action against Assad's regime.

Nato states have come under criticism for backing the air war in Libya but ruling out military intervention in Syria, where opposition demonstrators and badly outgunned rebels have been hammered by heavily-armed regime forces.

In neighbouring Lebanon, protesters blocked roads in the northern Akkar region for a third day on Tuesday, a security official said, amid mounting tension over the conflict in Syria.

The road closures were linked to the weekend killings of two clerics at an army checkpoint in Akkar, a mainly Sunni region whose inhabitants are hostile to Assad's regime.

The killings ignited street battles in the capital Beirut that left two people dead and 18 wounded.

21 being questioned

Human rights group Amnesty International called on the Lebanese authorities to launch an independent investigation into the deaths of the two clerics.

"It's vital the probe into these killings is carried out by an independent body," said Amnesty's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, Ann Harrison.

A Lebanese judicial official said 21 soldiers, including three officers, were being questioned by military police in relation to the clerics' deaths.

A military judge meanwhile ordered the release on bail of an Islamist whose arrest had been another source of friction between pro- and anti-Syrian groups, a judicial official said.

Shadi al-Mawlawi's 12 May arrest on charges of belonging to a terrorist organisation sparked sectarian clashes in the northern port city of Tripoli that left 10 people dead.

His supporters say he was targeted because he was helping Syrian refugees fleeing the unrest in their country.

The unrest in Lebanon has highlighted deep divisions in the country over Syria.

The opposition led by former premier Saad Hariri backs the revolt against Assad, while the ruling coalition, in which the powerful Shi'ite movement Hezbollah plays a key role, supports the Damascus regime.

  • allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-05-23 08:44

    Ban Ki , the writing has been on the wall for sometime and sorry to burst your bubble but 14 months of conflict is a civil war. Its your commie mates that vetoed a quick end to this bloodletting which will only get worse . Their incomprehension of peoples will to be free , to fight to the bitter end and which has been demonstrated time after time is whats holding the world impotent to aid in Syria .Their support for one man over the well being of an entire nation is shocking, fascism has hijacked the UN by the autocrats.

      Fidel - 2012-05-23 10:40

      After all NATO bombed Serbia without a UNSC resolution. If the US really wanted to interven in Syria it would. Blaming Russia is a figleaf. Russia said at the security council meeting: We want the following put within the resolution that: 1] No opposition should be armed. 2] there should be no military intervention of any kind by any external force. This was rejected by: US, UK & France! So in actual fact they want the opposition to be armed and they want internal bloodshed in Syria as in Iraq, Libya and so on, so that they can have regime change either as in Libya or by hegemony and thereby negating all resistance to the supremacey and land grabbing of Israel in the ME and the march into Iran. Congratulations to Russia and China. I hope they will continue their good work and prevent another "No-Fly Zone" resolution turned into a "Bombing-zone" resolution as in the case of Libya. Fascism is not all about jack-boots and guys with moustaches. It is a system of economic and social control. The particularities of fascism in any given nation grow out of the special dynamics of that country. Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." Benito Mussolini

      allcoveredinNinjas - 2012-05-23 11:21

      Fascism ( /'fæ??z?m/) is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology . You can try spin it as much as possible , it is what it is. The merger of state and corporate power is communism which goes hand in hand with fascists and dictators.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-05-23 11:30

      Fidel, It is totally unnecessary to make Syria a complicated matter, of who did what and who said what, It has no bearing on reality any longer! And than to bring in quotes of Mussolini, you only want to confuse this issue with totally irrelevant stuff. Syria is not a complicated matter at all. Here is a country with 22 million people. The leader of their illigitimate ,government, is from a tiny minority tribe. His daddy hijacked (STOLE) this country from its owners, the Syrian people. For 48 years, the opposition to this evil family dynasty has been brutally crushed by what is the most opprressive regime on earth. Like in Egypt, like in Libya, these brave people stood up against the tyranny they have been living under, for nearly 5 decades !!! And this time, no matter how many of their family and friends get MURDERED by this WAR CRIMINAL, they will not give up!! The Syrian people want their country back !!! What Russia, the USA, Turkey, China, Lesotho, say and do, has become irrelevant to the Syrian people. Now, they got 60 000 Syrian soldiers, with their military hardware, who defected from their murderous Syrian army , protecting them and fighting for them !! They WILL get their country back !!!

      Gerhard - 2012-05-23 11:31

      Fidel the western powers categorically say they will not intervene militarily. So you are barking up the wrong tree.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 08:31

      Fidel, all the while Russia is arming Assad. Hello! Wakey-wakey.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-05-24 08:33

      Patrick, the murderous cowboy you're enabling is destroying Syria city by city, and exterminating thousands upon thousands of Syrians, and detaining, torturing and raping tens of thousands more. It's almost incomprehensible that you are being so blind and stubborn. But not surprising given your horrendous track-record of being wrong on this site.

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