56 Dead in Syria as Troops Kill 9 Activists Who Met U.N. Team

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  • W460
  • W460
  • W460
  • W460

A car bomb on Tuesday rocked central Damascus and 56 people were killed in fresh violence across the country, a day after nearly 60 were killed across Syria despite a hard-won ceasefire and the upcoming deployment of 300 U.N peace monitors.

Three people were wounded when the blast went off in the Marjeh district of the capital, Syrian state television reported, blaming "terrorists", the government term for rebels.

"An armed terrorist group detonated the car bomb near the Yelbugha complex in Marjeh, wounding three people and causing damage to nearby buildings," it said.

State news agency SANA said the bomb was placed under the car of an unsuspecting man, who was among those hurt.

The blast came as U.N. observers returned to the city of Hama's Arbaeen neighborhood, which activists said suffered a "massacre" on Monday at the hands of regime troops.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 31 civilians were killed in the flashpoint central city, out of a total of 56 people, including five soldiers, killed in violence across the country, despite the tenuous ceasefire.

A Damascus-based rights group said that among those killed in Hama were nine activists "summarily executed" a day after they had met the U.N. observers.

Activist Abu Ghazi al-Hamwi said the U.N. team met "members of the martyrs' families. But they did not comply with the families' requests to visit the mass graves where yesterday's dead had been buried."

Video footage posted online by activists showed a street in Arbaeen with large pools of blood and women weeping. Two young girls were shown in one video crying and holding up the picture of a man.

"This is my father," cries one girl.

The Observatory said two people also died on Tuesday in Damascus and its suburbs, one of them an intelligence officer shot in the neighborhood of Barzeh.

The violence occurred despite the April 12 ceasefire, and the presence of an advance team of U.N. monitors to implement the truce.

The persistent bloodshed has sparked growing criticism from opposition activists of the fledgling U.N. mission, which now numbers 11 observers out of a planned initial deployment of 30.

The monitors have toured several protest hubs since their arrival in the country earlier this month, including the battered city of Homs, where two of them set up base at the weekend.

During their visits, they have been greeted by thousands of protesters demanding the ouster of President Bashar al-Assad and the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army.

Despite skepticism over the U.N. mission, U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon on Monday gave the go-ahead for the deployment of 300 ceasefire monitors from next week.

Ban insisted that the Assad government ensure the protection of the unarmed observers and allow them to travel freely throughout the country.

Russia, a staunch ally of the Damascus regime, warned both sides to the conflict against disrupting the work of the U.N. observers which it said was crucial to providing an unbiased picture on the ground.

"The more observers there are, the more information we get that is based on objective facts and that is free from speculation," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

Critics have said the U.N. mission was simply allowing the regime to buy time as it presses its crackdown against what began as a popular revolt but has turned into an insurgency.

Washington has also expressed reservations, warning it may not back the mission's renewal after 90 days.

On Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama ordered new sanctions on Syria and Iran and the "digital guns for hire" who help them oppress their people with surveillance software and monitoring technology.

Obama announced additions to the pile of U.S. sanctions already faced by the two governments as part of a wider effort to crack down on human rights abuses, atrocities and genocide.

The measures will hit the two governments but also companies that help create systems that track or monitor their people for killing, torture or other abuses and prevent individuals involved from entering the United States.

Separately, the U.N.'s World Food Program on Tuesday said it was boosting assistance to the Syrian population to reach 500,000 people in the coming weeks.

"As the conflict continues, Syrians in areas affected by the violence are struggling to feed their families and WFP is deeply concerned about the potential for food insecurity," executive director Ertharin Cousin said in a statement.

Even before the revolt broke out in Syria in March 2011, 1.4 million Syrians, out of a population of 23 million, "were struggling to meet their daily food needs," Cousin said.

Comments 11
Missing youssefhaddad 24 April 2012, 23:57

Those UN observers what are they observing?
The amount of killings that happened within the few days that they have been in Syria does not seem to convince them that Assad is a criminal!

Thumb beiruti 25 April 2012, 00:30

The photographs that lead this article are an indictment not just of the Assad Regime, but of all of its supporters in Iran, Hezbollah and the FPM. It is also an indictment of the United States and the International Community that continues to dither thus enabling the mass murderer Assad to continue with his crimes. These are crimes for which there shall be long term consequences not just in Syria but in a growing circle of destruction that could take down the entire international order if Assad is allowed to get away with this out of expediency, regional strategies or real politik reasons. There is no justification, no reason that can explain, justify or condone this kind of official state action against its own people.
Where is the urgency to make it stop? Annan and his toothless agenda? In the face of clear evidence of atrocity, only a world that has looked the other way cannot see it.

Thumb beiruti 25 April 2012, 00:32

And then to have this story followed by one with led by a photograph of Aoun and his pointing finger is beyond the endurance level for people of conscience. I don't think that the problem is that the people have walked away from God, but that God has walked away from these people.

Missing dimashki 25 April 2012, 02:35

Beiruti there is a consipiracy against our people in Syria and the ones leading it are the US and her allies. We all know that if the US wanted to get rid of the giraffe they would have done so within 24 hours. A couple of F16 sorties and cruise missles and he'll be packing his stuff and heading for Tehran in no time. So....who is this mysterious x-factor that is protecting the regime in Syria and convincing the Americans and Europeans not to advance? Hmm...could it be our cousins who enjoy the most amount of security and wine tourism in that area called the Golan Heights?

Trust me though, God has not walked away from us...he is testing our endurance and I promise you that we will prevail.

Thumb beiruti 25 April 2012, 05:08

@Dimaski - God be with you guys. Hang in. You have many friends outside of Syria. More than you have enemies.

Default-user-icon Lebanese_in_US (Guest) 25 April 2012, 05:36

@beiruti: unfortunately, the US couldn't have gone in with F16s and cruise missiles because that would've raised hell in the US. Trust me that the West (led by the US) wants to put an end to Assad at this point, but with the unpopular war in Iraq and Afghanistan, then sending NATO to Libya the US is under tremendous pressure from its citizens. The US was hoping that the Arab League and some European countries had bigger balls and could handle Syria, but unfortunately it looks like they're running out of choices. In my opinion, Annan's six point plan was designed to show the world that there are no other options but to bring down Assad by military force. The only question remaining is if that will happen before or after the tourism season...

Default-user-icon Enough (Guest) 25 April 2012, 07:31

This is a disgrace on the head of the UN.... The world never changes when it comes to letting atrocities happen.

But to be fair let's put most of the blame where it belongs, on Russia and China who are well versed in oppressing their own people.

Default-user-icon Francis (Guest) 25 April 2012, 08:54

Sorry Darling but the guy in the photo whi you are crying is your father is a Terrorist and deserves to rot in the Abyss of Hell along with his rebel comrads. It's people like your father that want to instill Muslim Sharia Law and opress the minority in the country. History has proven this and thank God the Assad Regime will not allow them to proceed with their goals.

Default-user-icon achrafieh (Guest) 25 April 2012, 09:38

deplorable what is happenning in syria
but this nothing compared to what happenned to us in lebanon
hope not only syria but any country who meggeled in our affairs from 69 till taef accord by arms or money or moral support to have the same war we had for 20 years

Default-user-icon NR (Guest) 25 April 2012, 09:49

@Dimaski - Althought what's happening in Syria is a tragedy, this is what you used to do with us lebanese, coz the free syrian army was in the regular army who were killing us and who flee upon the israely invasion in 82.

Missing peace 25 April 2012, 15:10

how strange are the M8 supporters here not to comment the crimes going on in syria but so fast at insulting M14...

but what can we expect from the people who thanked the assad regime for its goodness to lebanon....