Monday 23 April 2012
English Speakers to Help The Syrian Revolution: SRGC || Hama Revolutionists Command Council || Hama|| 23/04/2012. The shabeeha are now entering the university girls residential dorms in Hama and the girls are in a state of great fear and terror and the shouts are rising from the building ………….
Hama: Shabiha Deploy at the Arba’een Roundabout:
Top United Nations officials have stressed that Syria is at a “pivotal” moment following the Security Council’s authorization this weekend of a supervision mission, and called for a full cessation of armed violence in the country.
“It is our hope that the deployment of observers will help to stop the killing and consolidate the calm,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, B. Lynn Pascoe. “The objective, however, is clearly not to freeze the situation but to create the conditions for a serious and credible political process.”
Briefing the Council today, Mr. Pascoe said that the cessation of armed violence in Syria remains “incomplete” and human rights violations are still perpetrated with impunity.
He also noted that little progress has been made so far on allowing the full and unimpeded access and increased capacity of agencies on the ground required to ensure the timely provision of humanitarian assistance.
“We urge the Government to take all necessary steps to facilitate the humanitarian response, as one million people are in need,” he said.
The violence in Syria, which began in March last year as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands of people.
On Saturday, the Council authorized the establishment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), comprising an initial deployment of up to 300 unarmed military observers as well as an appropriate civilian component, for an initial period 90 days.
The observers will be tasked with monitoring the cessation of violence, as well as monitoring and supporting the full implementation of the six-point peace plan put forward by the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States for Syria, Kofi Annan, who, in an earlier statement, stressed that the Council’s decision represents a “pivotal moment” for the stabilization of the country.
“I urge all forces whether governmental, opposition or others to put down their weapons and work with the United Nations monitors to consolidate the fragile cessation of violence in all its forms,” Mr. Annan said on Sunday, adding that the Government in particular must stop the use of heavy weapons and withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centres.
Mr. Annan’s plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, and the start of an inclusive political dialogue.
“The work of the mission should help create the conditions conducive to launching the much-needed political process, which would address the legitimate concerns and aspirations of the Syrian people,” Mr. Annan said.
“I call on the Government and the opposition and all the people of Syria to prepare to engage in such a process as a matter of utmost priority,” he added.
Mr. Annan is scheduled to brief the Council on Tuesday.
[local time] 21:17 Arab League Secretary General Nabil al-Arabi Monday called for a ceasefire and the start of a political process to end the Syrian crisis.
21:14 Syrian security forces killed 66 people on Monday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying, adding that most of those killed were in Hama and Edleb.
20:47 The Syrian Arab News Agency reported on Monday that the relevant authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle arms into Syria from Lebanon.
20:34 A senior Syrian official said Monday the government was fully “committed” to international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan for Syria, saying dialogue was “the only way” out of its crisis, official media reported.
20:27 Syrian security forces shelled Edleb’s Jerjnaz and killed ten people, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
20:23 A prominent Jordanian charity said on Monday that some 500 Syrian refugees have fled to the neighboring kingdom in the past two days after escaping from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces.
15:49 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.
17:29 The UN said on Monday that 300 UN ceasefire observers will deploy to Syria at the start of next week, AFP reported.
16:48 US President Barack Obama Monday ordered sanctions and visa bans for companies and individuals providing technological know-how, computers or other equipment to help Iran and Syria oppress their people.
16:00 Syrian security forces killed 36 people on Monday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
15:49 At least nine civilians were killed and dozens wounded on Monday in heavy gunfire by regime forces in the central city of Hama, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
15:37 UN monitors of the ceasefire in Syria visited the Damascus region on Monday, including Zabadani, a town where regime forces and rebels have clashed repeatedly, a spokesperson for the observers said.
14:55 Monday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 20 people, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
14:35 Syrian security forces killed 10 people in the Hama’s neighborhood of Al-Arbaeen, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Monday.
13:36 Syrian security forces killed seven people on Monday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
9:16 The European Union agreed Monday to slap new sanctions on the Syrian regime, banning luxury goods exports and further restricting the sale of items used to repress dissidents, a diplomat said.
8:00 The shadow of past international failures in Bosnia and Rwanda hangs over special envoy Kofi Annan and the UN Security Council as they dig in for a prolonged showdown with Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad.
7:53 LEADER: Troops shot dead six civilians on Sunday in Homs despite the presence of UN military observers in the rebel province to pave the way for a 300-strong mission approved by the Security Council, monitors said.
Shells and gunfire from Syrian security forces have killed at least 33 people in the city of Hama, activists say.
Dozens have reportedly also been injured in two northern districts.
EU foreign ministers meanwhile imposed a new round of sanctions, banning the export of luxury products and goods that could be used to repress dissent.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said Damascus was “not in full compliance of the ceasefire requirements” of the peace plan negotiated by Kofi Annan.
On Sunday, Mr Annan described as a “pivotal moment” the UN Security Council’s decision to deploy up to 300 observers to Syria.
“The government in particular must desist from the use of heavy weapons and, as it has committed, withdraw such weapons and armed units from population centres and implement fully its commitments under the six-point plan,” Mr Annan, the UN and Arab League envoy to Syria, added.
A UN Supervision Mission to Syria (UNSMIS) advance team arrived in the country in the past week and over the weekend visited the central city of Homs, which has been under almost constant bombardment since the ceasefire began 10 days ago.
Opposition and human rights activists said government tanks and artillery opened fired on the Arbaeen and Mashaa al-Arbaeen districts of Hama, which lie to the north of the city centre, on Monday morning.
“It began in the morning with tanks and artillery, there were houses burning,” a local activist called Mousab told Reuters news agency by telephone. “[Then] the military forces entered and shot people in the street.”
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 33 people had been killed in Hama on Monday. The Local Co-ordination Committees, an activist network, put the death toll at 35.
Another activist living in a neighbouring district said he could see a thick column of smoke rising from areas where the shells had been landing.
Earlier, Syrian state television reported that observers had visited Zabadani, a town in the mountains north-west of Damascus. A UNMIS spokesman said the team also planned to travel to the suburbs of Douma and Harasta.
An activist in Zabadani, Fares Mohammed, said the UN team had been in the town for only about 30 minutes, had talked to a few people and seen some buildings damaged by what he said were government attacks.
Army tanks deployed in the town centre had been withdrawn shortly before the visit and hidden less than 1km (0.6 miles) away, he added.
“Those tanks can be back in the city in two minutes,” he told the Associated Press.But in Homs, the continued presence of two observers appears to have led to a significant reduction in violence in recent days.
“Before, we were getting hit with rockets and mortars,” activist Abu Mohammed Ibrahim told AP. “Now there are snipers and some gunfire, but only medium weapons. Before they fired all they had at us.”
Meanwhile, state media reported that “terrorists” had killed a doctor and two military officers in the country’s south, and another two officers in Hama province.
In a separate development, a Jordanian relief agency said Syrian troops had attacked about 900 people trying to flee over the border near the Jordanian town of Ramtha early on Sunday.
Kitab and Sunna spokesman Mohammed Ahmed Iyad told the BBC that about 195 Syrians had been injured by gunfire.
The refugees told him that Syrian forces had arrested dozens among their group. There was also noticed an influx of unaccompanied children, sparking fears that their parents and relatives had been detained or died.
The UN says about 9,000 people have died since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In February, the Syrian government put the death toll at 3,838 – 2,493 civilians and 1,345 security forces personnel.
‘Keeping up pressure’
Monday’s fresh violence came as diplomats said the EU’s Council of Foreign Ministers had agreed a 14th round of sanctions.
EU experts will work out over the next few weeks precisely which products will be affected by the new embargoes.
So-called “dual-use” goods, which could be used for repression, could reportedly include anything from vehicles to fertilisers. A ban on luxury goods imposed on North Korea included caviar, truffles, expensive wines and spirits, fashion accessories, perfumes, crystal and silverware and thoroughbred horses.
Diplomats told AFP news agency that the luxury goods ban represented a symbolic blow against President Bashar al-Assad and his wife, Asma, whose apparently expensive tastes have been widely criticised.
Last month, Asma al-Assad, who was born in the UK, was hit with a travel ban and her assets in the EU were frozen. The Syrian leader’s mother, sister and sister-in-law were also targeted.
UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said on Monday: “It is very important for us to keep up that pressure, step up that pressure. They are not in full compliance of the ceasefire requirements of the Annan plan.”
But Russia’s foreign ministry condemned the new sanctions, saying they were “unacceptable from the point of view of international law”.
Later, US President Barack Obama signed an executive orderintended to prevent the authorities in Syria and Iran from using sophisticated communications equipment against dissidents.
Mr Obama said the two countries were conducting violent campaigns against their own people, assisted by “the malign use of technology”.
Annan’s six-point peace plan
1. Syrian-led political process to address the aspirations and concerns of the Syrian people
2. UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties to protect civilians
3. All parties to ensure provision of humanitarian assistance to all areas affected by the fighting, and implement a daily two-hour humanitarian pause
4. Authorities to intensify the pace and scale of release of arbitrarily detained persons
5. Authorities to ensure freedom of movement throughout the country for journalists
6. Authorities to respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully
Reuters: Hama shelling undermines Syria truce
The Syrian army killed more than 20 people in Hama on Monday, activists said, shattering a week of relative quiet in the central city visited a day earlier by U.N. monitors laying the ground for a wider mission to oversee a shaky 11-day ceasefire.
A small group of unarmed observers has been in Syria for a week, tracking the truce between forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and opponents inspired by ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The deal has curbed some of the violence, but the latest killings in Hama’s Arbaeen district have laid bare the difficulty of bringing to a complete halt 13 months of fighting in which more than 9,000 people have died.
The U.N. Security Council has approved an expansion of the monitoring mission to 300 observers, although Assad’s opponents say such numbers are far too small to keep a track on events in a nation of 23 million.
The U.N. political affairs chief said on Monday that the fighting in Syria was continuing despite announcements from the government that it will comply with the truce and has withdrawn troops and heavy weapons from population centers.
“The cessation of armed violence remains incomplete,” Lynn Pascoe, U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the Security Council during a debate on the Middle East.
There was no immediate comment from Syrian authorities, who say they are committed to international mediator Kofi Annan’s April 12 ceasefire agreement, but reserve the right to respond to what they say are continued attacks by “terrorist groups”.
A local activist called Mousab told Reuters by telephone in neighboring Lebanon that military forces entered the Hama district “and shot people in the street”.
“It began in the morning with tanks and artillery. There were houses burning,” he said, adding that at least 20 people were killed, 60 were wounded and more could be buried under collapsed buildings.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had the names of 28 people killed in Hama on Monday.
A group of U.N. monitors visited Hama on Sunday, and activists said soldiers opened fire to prevent a crowd from meeting them in the main square of the city, which had been relatively quiet since the ceasefire agreement.
Hama is a hotbed of anti-Assad sentiment where thousands of people were killed 30 years ago in a crackdown on an armed Islamist uprising by his father, Hafez.
On Monday, the nascent U.N. monitoring mission also visited Douma, a town on the outskirts of Damascus. A video provided by activists showed four blue-helmeted U.N. personnel in the middle of a throng of thousands of men chanting anti-Assad slogans.
Besides calling for the arming of the rebels, the men also demanded tanks be pulled out of cities amid skepticism that Assad’s forces are complying with one of the key stipulations of Annan’s ceasefire deal.
Douma-based activist Mohammed Doumany said security forces had simply hidden tanks and other hardware on farms around the town, beyond the prying eyes of monitors.
“Today everything is quiet. Yesterday and this morning there was lots of gunfire and tanks everywhere but they have hidden them to pretend to the monitors that they are respecting the ceasefire,” he said.
Under the terms of the deal, the U.N. monitors have to remain neutral – a stance that is drawing ire from Syrians desperate for outside help, especially after Western military intervention against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
“When they went to Zabadani, they only stayed for ten minutes and refused to see anything,” said Omar Hamza, an activist who lives just outside Douma, after a flying U.N. visit to Zabadani, a town near the Lebanese border.
“They are only there to see if there are tanks but the government hides them,” he said. “The people of Zabadani are very angry.”
The Syrian government says 2,500 security personnel have been killed by the rebels, and the official SANA state news agency “armed terrorist” groups assassinated a colonel, two lieutenants, a warrant officer and a doctor on Sunday.
Western and Arab ministers meeting in Paris last week described the observer mission as a “last chance” for peace in a state that sits at the strategic heart of the Middle East, and abuts Israel.
The United States said if Damascus did not permit adequate monitoring, the Security Council should work towards imposing global sanctions that would put a far tighter economic squeeze on Assad.
The European Union strengthened its own sanctions against Damascus on Monday, restricting exports of luxury goods and items that could be used for repression.
(Writing by Ed Cropley, editing by Diana Abdallah)
- U.N. says Syria violence continues despite pledges to end it: 2:56pm EDT
- EU restricts luxury exports to Syria in new sanctions: 4:37am EDT