Syrian Forces Shoot Dead 26 Civilians as Defectors Kill 8 Troopsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Army defectors killed at least eight Syrian troops Wednesday in an act of revenge after security forces shot dead five civilians, activists said, in the second such insurgent attack in as many days, as the Local Coordination Committees said regime troops killed 26 civilians on Wednesday.
The LCC, the main activist group spurring protests on the ground, said security forces shot dead nine people in Homs, eight in Hama, three in Idlib, two in Damascus, two in Daraa, one in al-Qamishli and one in the Damascus suburb of al-Zabadani.
"At least eight soldiers were killed in an ambush on four military jeeps travelling in the village of al-Asharna on the outskirts of (the central city of) Hama," said the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The ambush was carried out by "army defectors in response to the death of five Syrian civilian citizens who were killed (on Wednesday) morning when their car was hit by security forces" near al-Khataab, it said in a statement.
The violence comes amid diplomatic wrangling, as Western nations seek tough action against Syria at the U.N. Security Council, where the regime of President Bashar Assad has support from his veto-wielding ally Russia.
In its statement received in Nicosia, the Observatory said three army "defectors" were wounded when they clashed with regular troops at Lujat in southern Daraa province, cradle of the revolt against Assad's 11-year rule.
"Heavy gunfire was heard in the town of Hirak," also in Daraa, which came under assault by military forces backed by tanks and troop carriers, said the rights group.
In Douma, to the north of Damascus, telephone lines were completely cut off at dawn while heavy gunfire could be heard near a state security office.
In Harasta, on the outskirts of the capital, security forces conducted raids and arrests in an assault that was coupled with "power-cuts in some neighborhoods," the Observatory said.
The reports cannot be independently verified as most foreign reporters cannot enter or move freely in Syria.
Activists reported the deaths of at least 23 civilians across Syria on Tuesday at the hands of security forces seeking to crush the unprecedented protest movement that erupted mid-March.
Also on Tuesday, army defectors ambushed a Syrian security patrol, killing seven in revenge for a raid that cost 11 civilian lives, they said, while state media said Syrian border guards shot dead two "terrorists" from Turkey.
The unrest gripping Syria was the focus of a U.N. Security Council meeting on Tuesday, with U.N. rights Chief Navi Pillay estimating more than 5,000 people has died since March in the government's crackdown on dissent.
Pillay's private briefing to the 15-nation council -- where Russia and China blocked a resolution condemning Assad in October -- heightened divisions over how to respond to the Syrian violence.
Washington has denounced the Security Council's silence on Syria as "unconscionable."
But Moscow said that the West is pursuing an agenda of "regime change" by putting pressure on Syria's government but not on armed groups in the troubled country.
Pillay told reporters she had given the new toll of more than 5,000 dead -- including some 300 children -- and recommended the Assad regime's crackdown be referred to the International Criminal Court.
"The widespread and systematic nature of the killings, the detentions and the acts of torture -- I felt that these acts constituted crimes against humanity," said Pillay.
"Inaction by the international community will embolden Syrian authorities, and ensure perpetrators go unpunished," Pillay said.
The Arab League has called an emergency meeting of the 22-member bloc's foreign ministers in Cairo on Saturday to respond to Syria's proposal to admit observers in exchange for an end to regional sanctions.
The meeting would seek recommendations for the ministers on steps to take if Damascus refuses to sign the agreement on observers, said Mohammed Zaidi, an adviser to Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi.
The Arab League decided on November 12 to suspend Syria's membership and warned it would head to the United Nations if Assad's regime pressed on with the deadly crackdown.
As Syria is not a signatory to the ICC statute, only the Security Council could refer the case to the tribunal, as it did in the case of Libya this year.