33 killed, EU slaps fresh sanctions on SyriaAgence France-Presse . Damascus
At least 33 people were killed in violence across Syria on Monday, among them 23 soldiers who died in fierce clashes between regime forces and rebels in the central city of Rastan, a watchdog said, as the EU slapped fresh sanctions on Damascus.
Also on Monday, Russia said it was ‘absolutely clear’ that al-Qaeda and its associates were behind twin bomb attacks in the Syrian capital last week that killed 55 people.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said three troop carriers were destroyed in clashes that began at dawn on the outskirts of Rastan, a rebel-held city located in restive Homs province.
A lieutenant who had defected was also killed in the clashes.
Regime forces launched an offensive on the city at the weekend but have met with sharp resistance from rebels seeking the ouster of the regime of president Bashar al-Assad.
The Observatory said dozens had been wounded in shelling of the city by Syrian troops.
And in Quraya in the eastern province of Deir Ezzor, a 15-year-old boy was killed by machinegun fire as regime forces raided the town, the Britain-based watchdog said, bringing the total number of people killed on Monday to 25.
The deadly unrest comes despite a month-old ceasefire brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan as part of a six-point plan aimed at ending violence that has swept Syria since March last year when a popular revolt erupted against Assad’s regime.
Part of the plan includes the deployment in flashpoint areas of around 300 UN military observers. By Sunday, 189 observers were on the ground, the UN mission in Syria said.
Despite the presence of the observers, more than 60 people were killed across Syria at the weekend in raids and shelling attacks by regime forces on rebel strongholds, and in clashes between soldiers and armed rebels, the Observatory said.
More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began in March 2011, according to the watchdog, including more than 900 killed since the April 12 truce.
On the diplomatic front, EU foreign ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday slapped a 15th round of sanctions on Syria, due to the ‘appalling violence’ there and discussed further support for Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
The new European Union sanctions, to take effect on Tuesday, mean 129 people and 43 firms or utilities are now targeted by an assets freeze and travel ban for backing the regime’s 14-month campaign of relentless repression.
‘The continuing violence is appalling and we continue to look again at sanctions,’ said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.
Ashton said the bloc at the weekend delivered a fleet of 25 armoured vehicles to help Annan’s observer mission, deployed under his peace plan which the EU sees as the only possible way to avoid all-out civil war in Syria.
comments powered by Disqus