Several Dead, Hurt across Syria as Blast Hits U.N. Observer Convoy in Daraa

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

A roadside blast hit troops escorting U.N. observers in Syria's south on Wednesday, a day after envoy Kofi Annan warned that his peace plan could be the last chance to avoid civil war, while several people were killed or wounded in violence across the country.

The explosive device, apparently planted underground, wounded six Syrian soldiers escorting the convoy as it entered the city of Daraa, cradle of a 14-month uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime.

Major General Robert Mood, the head of the 70-strong U.N. mission, was in the four-vehicle convoy but escaped unharmed along with 11 other observers and his spokesman, Neeraj Singh, said an Agence France Presse photographer traveling with them.

The Norwegian general said the attack was "a graphic example of violence that the Syrian people" were suffering on a daily basis.

"It is imperative that violence in all its forms must stop," Mood was quoted as saying by Singh, who added: "We remain focused on our task."

The opposition Syrian National Council accused the regime of being behind the blast, the latest breach of a month-old ceasefire agreement brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Annan.

"We believe the regime is using these tactics to try to push the observers out amid popular demands to increase their numbers," SNC executive committee member Samir Nashar told AFP.

"(Anti-regime) demonstrators want the observers, because they provide a safety guarantee. In their presence, people can express themselves through peaceful protests," said Nashar.

"We are used to the regime's tactics of claims that there is terrorism and fundamentalism in Syria, which is not the case."

France strongly condemned the bombing.

"We hold the Damascus regime responsible for the observers' security," said foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero.

In other violence, troops pounded rebels hiding out in Douma near Damascus, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In the village of Manshiya, near Daraa, several soldiers were killed and wounded when an explosion targeted their vehicle.

Clashes between regime forces and rebel groups killed one soldier in the village of Marata, northwestern Idlib province, said the watchdog.

Two security forces members were killed in eastern Deir Ezzor, the scene of heavy shooting and explosions, and a pro-regime gunman was killed in Aleppo, Syria's second city in the north.

One civilian was killed and three wounded in heavy machinegun fire by regime forces in Tell Ain al-Hamra, northwestern Idlib province, it said, adding a woman died in the central city of Hama from injuries suffered two days.

Security forces carried out arrest raids in Harasta, outside Damascus, and the villages of al-Safira and al-Hisan in Deir Ezzor province, the watchdog added.

In neighboring Lebanon, cross-border gunfire from Syrian forces killed an elderly woman and wounded her daughter on Tuesday, an official said, a month after Lebanese al-Jadeed TV cameraman Ali Shaaban was killed in a similar shooting.

On Tuesday, Annan told the U.N. Security Council the priority in Syria was "to stop the killing," and expressed concern that torture, mass arrests and other human rights violations were intensifying.

Regime forces "continue to press against the population," despite a putative truce that started on April 12, but attacks are more discreet because of the presence of the U.N. military observers, diplomats quoted him as saying.

"The biggest priority, first of all we need to stop the killing," Annan told reporters in Geneva.

Annan briefed the council on his efforts to get Assad to implement the plan, which he said was possibly "the last chance to avoid civil war."

He stressed, however, that the peace bid was not an "open-ended" opportunity for Assad, diplomats who attended the briefing said.

Annan plans to visit Damascus for a second time in the coming weeks, his spokesman said, though this depended on events on the ground.

U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice said Washington's goal was still the removal of Assad.

"The United States remains focused on increasing the pressure on the Assad regime and on Assad himself to step down," Rice said.

Annan updated the U.N. body on the status of his six-point plan after U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon warned world powers were racing against time to prevent all-out civil war.

The current observers on the ground "have had a calming effect" and the deployment by the end of the month of a 300-strong team would see a "much greater impact," said the envoy.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, urged the U.N. to bolster its mission to as many as 3,000 -- well past the 300 authorized under a Security Council resolution.

The Observatory said Tuesday that almost 12,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria since March 2011. About 800 of them had died since the truce was supposed to have taken effect.

The United Nations has accused both the government and rebels of violating the ceasefire.

Comments 10
Missing allouchi 09 May 2012, 17:05

No peace in Syria with Assad family in power or alive. Many great current great countries had their civil wars and if that's what it takes so BE IT.

Missing youssefhaddad 09 May 2012, 18:29

Although it is possible, it would be stupid for the opposition to knowingly attack UN observers escort convoys!
If not could this have been another badly produced Syrian movie?
Is this the Regime's way to show the UN observers that "Terrorists" are attacking the regular troops and that he is legitimately defending Syria...

Missing mohammad_ca 09 May 2012, 18:49

It is stupid to think that the oppositino did this, the regime wants to show that there really are "terrorists" in Syria when, in fact, the regime is the one and only terrorist.

Missing peace 09 May 2012, 20:37

yes they are!

Missing realist 09 May 2012, 22:31

just shut up already, go watch thousands of youtubes and quit watching OTV

Missing realist 09 May 2012, 22:29

just shut up already, bashar taba3ak will go to the history bin, dont you feel ashamed as a she3i who believes in the OPRESSED HUSSEIN! to defend such a regime?? sti7i 3a 7alak, 3ala deenak, dont you feel ashamed to support genocide, rape and murder?? who are you trying to fool? your hasan nasrala is now the most despised figure in the arab street from morroco to yemen, you know why? cause you are bunch of HYPOCRITES and racist/sectarian thugs.Your real enemy are the muslims and your hizbustan, israel, iran are in the same bed when it comes to that common enemy.

Default-user-icon Greenie (Guest) 10 May 2012, 01:32

Rudes,next time ask your hairdresser to trim your ears while doing your hair.
How would you see what is bashar doing in Syria when you cannot see what he and his father did in lebanon.

Tonto y capullo

Missing helicopter 10 May 2012, 03:23

If Gaegae can do that so can Bashar (this is your own theory man)

Missing cedars 10 May 2012, 04:32

Why are there too many propane canisters that explode in the Dahyeh only?

Thumb whyaskwhy 10 May 2012, 08:44

I thought that one of illustrious leaders mentioned that that situation in Syria will be fine in a couple of weeks....ummm I think he said that three months ago though? maybe this is all fake put together by the IDF to confuse us part of the greater Kissinger campaign of killing all Arabs by 1973...etc...