28 killed in Hama as govt breaks Syria truce
BEIRUT REGIME forces killed at least 28 civilians with heavy gunfire in the central city of Hama on Monday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Britain-based watchdog, which had earlier put the number of dead at 25, said the victims were shot by regime forces in and around the city’s Arbaeen neighbourhood.
It said five charred bodies were also found in the neighbourhood on Monday. The circumstances surrounding their deaths were unclear.
Videos posted by activists on YouTube showed the area being shelled with mortars, sending up plumes of white smoke.
The casualties came as UN military observers were deployed in Syria in a bid to implement a fragile ceasefire that went into effect on April 12.
The watchdog said another civilian was killed overnight in Damascus province amid clashes between opposition and government forces.
It added that five soldiers were also killed in clashes in Hama province and and in Daraa province, south of Damascus.
In Deir Ezzor, in northeast Syria, the Observatory reported raids and arrests by government forces as well as heavy shooting in the town of Al Quriyah.
Al Jura district of Deir Ezzor was besieged by pro-regime militia, it added.
The United Nations has estimated that more than 9,000 people have died in Syria since the revolt against President Bashar al Assad’s regime broke out in March 2011.
Meanwhile, UN observers monitoring the ceasefire in Syria visited several rebellious suburbs near the capital and were met by thousands of protesters demanding the collapse of the regime.
Amateur video posted by activists on YouTube showed four of the unarmed observers in blue helmets walking in Douma, a northern suburb of Damascus, surrounded by a huge crowd waving Syria independence flags.
“The people demand the fall of the regime,” some chanted while others called for the arming of the rebel Free Syrian Army.
Monitors also visited the town of Zabadani, 47 kilometres (29 miles) northwest of the capital, where regime forces and rebels have clashed repeatedly in past months.
Fares Mohamed, an activist in Zabadani, said the observers’ visit lasted barely half an hour.
“They refused to head to a location less than a kilometre (mile) from the town to see tanks hidden by the regime,” said Mohamed, who was reached via Skype.