Tuesday 1 May 2012

May 1, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Syrian Revolution

UN peacekeeping chief calls on parties in Syria to ensure cessation of violence: 1 May 2012 – The head of United Nations peacekeeping operations today called on all parties in Syria to ensure the cessation of violence is observed, stressing that recent reports from observers on the ground show that much more needs to be done to maintain a ceasefire in the country.

“It is clearly for the parties to demonstrate the desire to cease all forms of armed violence,” said Under-Secretary-General Hervé Ladsous at a press briefing in New York. “More bombs, more weapons, more violence could only increase the tension and add to an already very considerable toll of human lives.”

A truce was agreed on 12 April between the Syrian Government and opposition parties. A week later, the Security Council authorized the establishment of UNSMIS, an observer mission made up of up to 300 unarmed military observers and deployed for an initial period of 90 days, to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria.

UNSMIS has two mandated tasks: to monitor the cessation of armed of armed violence in all its forms and to monitor and support the implementation of the six-point proposal of the Joint Special Envoy of the UN and the League of Arab States, Kofi Annan.

Mr. Ladsous told reporters that Major-General Robert Mood, who was appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon last week to head UNSMIS, had arrived in Damascus on Sunday and expressed his aim of reaching out to Syrians and to ensure that all forms of violence stop immediately.

“The mission is still in its early days and we are making every effort to get the observers on the ground and operational as quickly as possible,” Mr. Ladsous said, adding that even though the number of observers is small at the moment, they are already having a visible impact on the five locations they are staying in: Damascus, Homs, Hama, Dara’a and Idlib.”

“Their presence has the potential to change the political dynamic,” he added. “They help build calm, and calm helps the political process that Mr. Annan is leading and that process in turn, we hope, will bring lasting peace to a democratic Syria.”

The peacekeeping chief also said he expected the number of UNSMIS observers to increase rapidly over the next few weeks so that the mission can build up to full operational strength by the end of May.

The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.

UN envoy urges protection of children from violence in Syria: The United Nations envoy for children and armed conflict today said she was alarmed by another wave of extreme violence which had resulted in the deaths and injuries of children across Syria and called on all parties to ensure their protection.

“I urge all parties in Syria to refrain from indiscriminate tactics resulting in the killing and wounding of children,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, Radhika Coomaraswamy, in anews release. “It is the responsibility and humanitarian imperative of all parties to protect and prevent unnecessary suffering of girls and boys.”

A truce was agreed on 12 April between the Syrian Government and the opposition. One week later, the Security Council authorized the establishment of UNSMIS, an observer mission made up of up to 300 unarmed military observers and deployed for an initial period of 90 days, to monitor the cessation of violence in Syria. However, despite the deployment of UN ceasefire monitors, more than 34 children have allegedly been killed.

“Reports indicate that two children were killed today in a mortar attack. In recent days, at least one child was killed during anti-Government protests, and the dead body of a girl was retrieved from the rubble of a collapsed house in Hama,” Ms. Coomaraswamy said.

Yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned a series of recent suicide attacks which rocked Damascus, the capital, and the city of Idlib, which resulted in further child causalities.

The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 9,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: The death toll of people killed in Hama has risen to 5 martyrs. A 15-year-old child died from injuries sustained in the explosion that happened last Wednesday at the area of the west of the Stadium in Hama. One person killed in gunfire at an evening protest in the neighbourhood of Al-Arba’ein. 2 people killed in gunfire by the regular forces at the village of Al-Twaini and one person killed during the bombardment of the village of Al-Hwaija in Ghab Plain at the rural area of Hama.

The death toll of people killed in Homs Governorate has risen to 6 martyrs. 4 people killed in Homs city: 3 people killed in the random gunfire by the regular forces in the neighbourhood of Al-Bayaada and one person died from injuries sustained few days ago in Al-Wa’ere. A woman killed by a sniper’s bullet in the city of Al-Rastan and a child died from sustained injuries in the village of Al-Nezariya in the rural area of Al-Qusaire.

7 people including 6 children were wounded in the random gunfire by the Syrian regular forces at the town of Sobaikhan in the rural area of Deir Ezzor.

A high ranked officer, who is believed to be the Syrian defence minster, is leading the military operations at the eastern of Deir Ezzor Governorate (Al-Busaira, Khasham, Al-Bo Omar and Muhssen). Activists from the area have confirmed that the Syrian forces used artilleries there and the decision to launch the military operation was taken at Al-Baath Party headquarter in the city of Deir Ezzor last night. The activist stressed that regular army personnel were killed yesterday during an attack by the regular forces on the strongholds of insurgents who consequently fought back and killed 12 of them.

Local Coordinating Committees: Hama: Salamieh: Silent Women’s Demonstration where Protesters are Holding Signs Demanding an End to the Killing and the Release of the Detainees

   youtu.be

The Syrian Days Of Rage – English: ?(05-01-12) #Deir ez-Zor #Syria | Martyr & local distributor of cheese & milk, Salih Badir Al Ajoor Al Askar was murdered by #Assad forces while beginning his work. #RIP The #Baath regime will only continue to kill. http://ow.ly/aCYJO
 (05-01-12) Deir ez Zor (+18) Martyr & Local Distributor of Cheese &…

NOW! Lebanon
[local time]  20:10 US President Barack Obama on Tuesday gave the US Treasury authority to tighten sanctions against Syria and Iran by going after foreign firms or individuals that violate existing measures.
 19:18 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 43 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
 18:52 Syrian security forces have kept heavy weapons in cities in breach of a UN brokered cessation of hostilities, but the government and opposition both have committed truce violations, a top UN official said Tuesday.
 18:05 Al-Arabiya television is broadcasting live footage of an anti-regime protest in Al-Midan neighborhood in Damascus.
 17:59 Syrian forces on Tuesday killed 31 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
 15:08 An Islamist group that has claimed several bomb attacks in Syria said on Tuesday it was responsible for a blast in Damascus last week that targeted security forces and an Iranian cultural center.
 11:47 Twelve Syrian troops were killed in clashes with rebel fighters in the northeastern province of Deir az-Zour on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
 10:07 Nine members of a single family were among 10 civilians killed in a dawn bombardment by Syrian government forces on Tuesday of a village in Edleb province in the northwest, a watchdog said.
 7:58 UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Monday condemned ”terrorist” bomb attacks in two Syrian cities but said UN observers had brought some improvement in areas where they have been deployed.
 7:54 US Senator Joe Lieberman met in Riyadh Monday with Saudi King Abdullah and other senior officials as part of a Middle East tour to discuss the Syria crisis, his office said.

BBC:  Syria violence ‘leaves 30 dead’

Activists report that at least 30 people, including nine members of one family and 12 soldiers, have been killed in separate attacks in Syria.

Nine members of one family, including four women and two children, were among 11 people killed in a mortar attack by troops on a village in Idlib province.

Twelve soldiers were also reportedly killed in the province of Deir al-Zour.

Meanwhile, the UN’s peacekeeping chief said its observers in Syria had noted violations of the 20-day-old ceasefire by both the government and opposition.

“The violations that are observed come from both sides. I would not establish the ratio,” Herve Ladsous told reporters in New York, adding that heavy weapons were still being deployed.

“Our observers have seen a number of APCs [armoured personnel carriers], for instance. They see a number of Howitzers and military equipment in most places where they are,” he added. “It is being claimed that the APCs have been disarmed, but that is not verified in all places.”

Mr Ladsous said the observers had confirmed there had been a bombing in Hama on Thursday, but that they did not know more. Both sides have blamed each other for the blast, which activists say killed up to 70 people.

An advance party of 24 unarmed military observers began work two weeks ago, with a number being sent to cities such as Hama.

Mr Ladsous said the deployment of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) was being “accelerated”, and that he hoped its full complement of 300 observers would be on the ground by the end of May.

However, he revealed that UN member states had so far only offered 150 monitors, and that Syria had refused visas for three of them.

‘Outside forces’

Mr Ladsous spoke after activists said at least nine members of a single family, including four women and two children, had been killed during the bombardment of a village in the north-eastern province of Idlib.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a mortar round had hit the family’s home in Mashmashan, near the town of Jisr al-Shughour.

Elsewhere in the province, a 13-year-old boy was killed by random gunfire in the town of Maarat al-Numan, it added.

Mahmoud al-AbrashSpeaker of the Syrian Parliament

In Deir al-Zour province, in the east, troops reportedly retaliated with mortar and machine-gun fire at a village, killing at least one person, after 12 soldiers were killed by rebels.

The Local Co-ordination Committees (LCC), an activist network, said 35 people had been killed by security forces across the country on Tuesday, including 18 in Idlib province, five in Hama and four in Homs.

The speaker of the Syrian parliament, Mahmoud al-Abrash, blamed the violence on other countries, which he said had been supporting the rebel Free Syrian Army.

“The escalation is continuing and it must be stopped from the outside – I mean those who are providing those groups with weapons and money,” he told the Reuters news agency. “They need to stop this.”

‘No other options’

Earlier the head of UNSMIS, Maj Gen Robert Mood of Norway, told the BBC World Service that his team were already having “a calming effect”.

He rejected criticism of the mission, particularly the small size of the team, and the fact that the observers are unarmed.

“There are not any other options on the table at the moment,” he said.

Major General Robert MoodMaj Gen Robert Mood has said his UN observer cannot bring peace to Syria on their own

“We have seen this in many crises before that if you simply keep adding to the violence with more bombs and weapons and more violence, it becomes a circle that is almost impossible to break,” he added. “We are not in that situation.”

But Gen Mood acknowledged that the monitors would not be able to solve Syria’s problems on their own.

The observer mission is part of a six-point peace plan negotiated by the UN and Arab League’s special envoy, Kofi Annan.

The UN meanwhile said it had received reports that 34 children had been killed in Syria since the ceasefire came into effect in 12 April.

Definitive figures are hard to verify because until now the UN, and independent journalists, have not had free access to the country.

But Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN’s special representative for children and armed conflict, said she could confirm that in recent days at least one child had been killed at an anti-government demonstration, and that the body of a girl had been retrieved from a destroyed house in Hama.

She urged both sides to “refrain from indiscriminate tactics resulting in the killing and wounding of children”.

In a separate development, President Barack Obama moved to increase the pressure of sanctions against Syria and Iran by granting the US treasury department new powers to publicly identify foreign companies, banks and individuals who try to evade US sanctions.

The treasury said it would also be able to bar those who seek to bypass the sanctions from access to the US financial and economic sectors.

Reuters:  Syria violence kills 23, U.N. criticizes both sides

Violence hit two Syrian provinces on Tuesday with a rights group reporting 10 civilians dead in an army mortar attack and 12 soldiers killed in a firefight with rebel gunmen as U.N. monitors sought to shore up a flimsy ceasefire.

The United Nations accused both sides of breaching the truce and said it had credible reports that at least 34 children had been killed since the accord took effect on April 12.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which tracks the 13-month-old uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, said nine members of one family died in mortar bomb blasts in a village in the northern province of Idlib.

An activist on the Turkish border, Tareq Abdelhaq, said 35 people had been wounded and that some were being carried 25 km (15 miles) along mountain tracks to receive emergency treatment in refugee camps dotted along the frontier.

“Some are being smuggled over the border to Turkey. They had to carry the wounded and go through the mountains to avoid checkpoints on the road,” Abdelhaq said. “One guy died on the way. He was 19 years old and had very bad injuries.”

In the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, troops hit back with mortar and heavy machinegun fire after losing a dozen of their own to insurgents, killing at least one villager and destroying a school, the anti-Assad Observatory added.

The United Nations says Syrian security forces have killed more than 9,000 people since the uprising began in March 2011.

Like other Arab revolts against autocratic rulers, Syria’s revolt began with peaceful protests but a violent government response has spawned an increasingly bloody insurgency.

The government says rebels have killed more than 2,600 soldiers and police, and the speaker of Syria’s parliament, Mahmoud al-Abrach, said that outside states backing the insurgency bore responsibility for the bloodshed.

“The escalation is continuing and it must be stopped from the outside – I mean those who are providing those groups with weapons and money,” he told Reuters Television in Damascus. “They need to stop this.”

The ceasefire brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan briefly calmed but failed to halt the conflict. Rebels, although low on funds and ammunition, seem to be stepping up a bombing campaign.

Explosions blew the fronts off buildings in the northwestern city of Idlib on Monday, killing nine people and wounding 100, including security personnel, according to state television, which blamed the blasts on “terrorist” suicide bombers.

Damascus has accused the United Nations of turning a blind eye to rebel ceasefire violations, although Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the Idlib blasts and rocket fire on the central bank in the capital as “terrorist bomb attacks”.

CYCLE OF VIOLENCE

The United Nations now has 30 truce monitors in Syria, a sprawling nation of 23 million people, and officials in New York said they expected all members of the planned 300-member mission to be on the ground by the end of the month.

Their commander, Norwegian Major General Robert Mood, has acknowledged his mission cannot solve Syria’s fundamental problems but said the security situation was not impossible.

“We have seen this in many crises before that if you simply keep adding to the violence with more bombs and weapons and more violence, it becomes a circle that is almost impossible to break,” he told BBC radio. “We are not in that situation.”

Western governments have lost patience with Assad, accusing him of breaking promises made to Annan that he would order troops and tanks back to their barracks.

Paris has called for U.N. sanctions against Damascus, but the West can do little given the diplomatic cover Syria enjoys at the Security Council from China and Russia. Moscow says the rebels are mainly to blame for the continued violence.

Western states are wary of military intervention along the lines of last year’s air campaign that helped topple Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi because of the greater diplomatic and military complexities of tackling Syria, as well as the potential spillover effects on a volatile Middle Eastern neighborhood.

(Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing byMark Heinrich)

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