Syria activists call protests as bomb kills 10Agence France-Presse . Damascus
Syrian activists protested against Bashar al-Assad on Friday, saying the Syrian president will be defeated, as a bomb the government blamed on terrorists killed 10 security personnel.
The latest violence, which left three security forces dead elsewhere, came as international envoy Kofi Annan’s spokesman acknowledged the situation was ‘not good’ and as rights monitors reported an opposition activist killed and intense shelling of protest centres.
‘It’s a very fragile ceasefire,’ Ahmad Fawzi told reporters of the tenuous truce which has seen more than 120 civilians killed since it went into effect on April 12.
The deadly blast on took placed in the southern region of Quneitra, near the border with Israel in the disputed Golan Heights, state television reported.
‘An armed terrorist group exploded a 100-kilogramme bomb in Sahm al-Jolan in the region of Quneitra, killing 10 members of the security forces,’ the television said.
Meanwhile, an advance team of UN military observers resumed work bolstered by the signing on Thursday of a protocol governing their mission to monitor a six-point plan brokered by Annan.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged the Security Council to take ‘early action’ to bolster the mission, while acknowledging that boosting its numbers to 300 was ‘not a decision without risk.’
Opposition activists had called for a show of defiance against Assad’s regime for the main weekly protests on the Muslim day of prayer and rest.
‘We will win and Assad will be defeated,’ was the slogan on the Syrian Revolution 2011 Facebook Page, which has been a major engine of the 13-month uprising that monitors say has left more than 11,000 people dead.
Videos posted online showed thousands of demonstrators joining a huge rally in the city of Hassaka in the mainly Kurdish northeast.
Others showed demonstrations in the southern province of Daraa, cradle of the uprising, as well as in the Damascus suburbs.
Across the country, activists reported a massive security force presence, particularly outside mosques, the traditional starting point for marches and protests.
French foreign minister Alain Juppe said the UN observer mission needed to be able to guarantee Syrians the freedom to protest.
‘We need observers on the ground, but properly equipped observers with helicopters that can ensure the right to protest. It’s extremely important. The day this freedom is guaranteed, the regime will fall,’ he said.
But the head of the small observer advance team, Morocco’s Colonel Ahmed Himmiche, said it would not be attending demonstrations on Friday for fear that ‘our presence is used for an escalation.’
‘Today, we have other tasks. We are going to meet civilians and representatives of organisations,’ Himmiche said as his team prepared to leave their Damascus hotel.
The UN chief said there was ‘deeply troubling evidence’ that the government was pursuing its deadly crackdown despite agreeing to halt violence.
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