Wednesday 27 June 2012
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: More than 150 Syrians killed on Wednesday 27/6/2012
-In Idlib province 37 civilians were killed. 10 civilians, including 3 women and 6 children, were killed by the helicopter bombardment on the town of al-Hubeit. 16 civilians, including 3 children and 2 women, were killed by the gunfire and bombardment in several areas in Reef Aleppo. 1 civilian was tortured to death. 1 civilian was killed from wounds he received 2 days ago. 8 were armed rebels, killed during clashes, 1 of them was a commander.
-In Deir Izzor province 14 civilians were killed. 1 was killed in al-Boukamal by the clashes and bombardment around the town. 12 were killed by the clashes and bombardment in the city of Deir Izzor, they include a family of 5 (woman and children). 1 man, from the town of Sour, Reef Deir Izzor, was killed in the Qadam neighbourhood of Damascus.
-In Reef Dimashq 10 civilians were killed. A young man was killed by the bombardment of Deir al-Asafeer. 8 were killed by gunfire and bombardment in, and around, the city of Douma. A civilian was killed by regime gunfire on a nightly protest in Shab’a.
-In Hama province 2 were killed. A young woman, from the Hawash village, was killed by random gunfire on the Damascus-Aleppo road near Khan al-Subul. Activists from the Ein al-Hamra village report that a young man was killed by a military checkpoint in the area.
-In Aleppo province 6 civilians were killed. The body of 1 civilian was found in the town of Hureitan, he seems to have been killed by gunfire. 2 children were martyred by the bombardment of Hayyan. 1 civilian was gunned down by a security checkpoint near al-Bab, Reef aleppo. A woman was killed by regime fire in al-Atarib. A 10-year-old child was martyred by random fire at a nightly protest in the al-Sukkari neighbourhood of Aleppo.
-In Dera’a province 13 civilians were killed. 3 civilians were killed by the bombardment, and gunfire, in Kafar shams, which has been under fire for several days. 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with Syrian forces in Kafar Shams. A civilian from the town of Nafi’a, Reef Dera’a, was killed by excessive torture after being detained by security services 20 days ago. 1 person was killed by regime gunfire in the city of Jassim. 3 civilians were killed by the regime bombardment of Da’el.
7 people were killed by the attack on the Syrian “Ikhbariya” news channel in Khan al-Sheikh, Reef Dimashq.
A defected soldier was killed during clashes in Reef Idlib. A defected police officer was killed by the bombardment of al-Qusayr, Reef Homs.
At least 57 members of the Syrian armed forces were killed today. They died by the attack on a military ZiL truck in Reef Deir Izzor; when heavy military vehicles were destroyed in Ma’arat Dibsa, Reef Idlib; as well as clashes in the provinces of Idlib, Aleppo, Deir Izzor, Homs, Reef Dimashq and Dera’a.
[local time] 22:13 The UN Security Council on Wednesday expressed concern that the Syria conflict could jeopardize the safety of UN monitors in the Golan Heights between Israel and Syria.
21:51 The Syrian army is shelling the Daraa town of Jassem, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
21:11 The United States said Wednesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s admission that his country was in a “state of war” was all the more profound because he caused it.
20:07 The United States on Wednesday condemned an attack on a pro-government television station in Syria which killed seven staff in the latest bloody twist of an uprising against the Damascus regime.
19:20 UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan will keep Iran involved in efforts to halt the Syria conflict even though it was not invited to an international meeting on the crisis, UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said Wednesday.
17:57 At least 36 people were killed in Syria on Wednesday, seven of which died in an attack on a pro-government television near Damascus according to state media, while 29 people died in other violence on the heels of the “bloodiest week” of the 15-month uprising, according to a watchdog.
17:16 Syrian forces on Wednesday shelled Deir az-Zour killing five people, the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution said.
16:14 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will attend an action group meeting on Syria this weekend at the United Nations in Geneva, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.
15:26 International peace envoy Kofi Annan said on Wednesday that an action group on Syria would meet this weekend in a new bid to shore up his faltering peace plan, but Iran was kept off the invitation list.
15:00 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States stood ready to support international envoy Kofi Annan’s push to find a diplomatic solution to Syria’s war Wednesday, ahead of slated talks.
14:52 Human Rights Watch on Wednesday urged Syrian authorities to end the “indiscriminate” shootings of civilians fleeing to Jordan and other neighboring countries.
14:49 China said on Wednesday it had a “positive attitude” toward a proposed meeting on Syria convened by peace envoy Kofi Annan.
14:09 Syrian forces on Wednesday killed 20 people, most of them in Deir az-Zour and Daraa, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Syrian Network for Human Rights as saying.
13:41 Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that Turkey has no intention of attacking Syria over its recent downing of a fighter jet.
13:34 France said Wednesday that potential talks among global powers brokered by Syria peace envoy Kofi Annan would have to focus on the need for a democratic transition in the conflict-torn country.
12:54 Syrian forces on Wednesday shelled the town of Maaraba in Daraa, Al-Arabiya television quoted the Syrian Media Center as saying.
12:41 More than 15,800 people have been killed since the outbreak of the Syrian revolt 15 months ago, a human rights watchdog said on Wednesday, adding that the past seven days had been the bloodiest so far.
12:20 Syria on Wednesday stormed out of a UN debate on a freshly critical report on the rights abuses in the conflict-torn country.
11:46 A UN Houla probe suspected Syrian President Bashar al-Assad loyal forces of “many” deaths, AFP reported on Wednesday.
11:44 Growing numbers of victims of the conflict in Syria are being targeted on account of their religion while gross violations of human rights are occurring on a regular basis, UN investigators said Wednesday.
10:23 Activists said on Wednesday that Syrian forces’ shelling of Edleb’s Khan al-Sabil killed a number of people and injured others, Al-Jazeera reported.
8:53 Cyprus, which on July 1 will assume the rotating presidency of the European Union, is ready with its European partners to evacuate refugees from Syria, the foreign minister said.
8:22 Amnesty International said Tuesday three medics were tortured and killed in Syria a week after their arrest in the city of Aleppo in what it said was an “appalling disregard” for the profession.
8:00 MORNING LEADER: Syria is in a state of war, President Bashar al-Assad has said, ordering his cabinet to crush the anti-regime revolt even as fierce fighting broke out near the capital Damascus.
7:42 Activists said on Wednesday that Syria’s Al-Ekhbariya station was “destroyed” by members of the Syrian Republican Guard who recently defected, Al-Jazeera reported.
7:40 A “terrorist attack” on the main offices of a pro-government satellite television channel near Damascus killed three staff early on Wednesday, state media reported.
Seven people have been killed at a Syrian pro-government TV channel, state media report, as the UN calls a key meeting for Saturday.
Gunmen have attacked a Syrian pro-government TV channel, killing seven people, state media say.
Journalists and security guards died in the attack on al-Ikhbariya TV south of Damascus, Sana news agency reported.
Hours earlier, President Bashar al-Assad said Syria was in “a real state of war” and US intelligence officials predicted a long, drawn-out struggle.
UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan has called a meeting of the UN action group for Syria for Saturday.
His deputy envoy said on Wednesday that the violence in the country had “reached or surpassed” levels before the April ceasefire deal.
The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut says that Syrian TV dropped normal programming on Wednesday to run live coverage of the attack on the headquarters of Ikhbariya TV in the town of Drusha, some 20km (14 miles) south of the capital.State TV showed pictures of burnt and wrecked buildings, with fires still smouldering.
Syria’s Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi, on a visit to the site, said some of the victims had been abducted, bound, and killed in cold blood.
He also condemned the EU’s decision to impose sanctions on Syria’s state-run TV and radio agency for its support of the Assad government.
The Ikhbariya attack followed fierce clashes in suburbs of the capital, Damascus, described by opposition activists as the worst there so far.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighting had taken place near positions of the Republican Guard, which is led by President Assad’s younger brother Maher and has the role of protecting the capital.
The Observatory also reported violence on Wednesday in the central city of Homs, Deir al-Zour in the east and in Idlib in the north.
Mr Annan has announced there will be a meeting in Geneva on Saturday of the Syrian action group – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar.
There was no mention of including Iran, whose presence in talks has been urged by Russia.
Mr Annan said the aim of the meeting was to secure full implementation of an agreed peace plan and back the “principles for a Syrian-led political transition”.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who will attend the meeting, said that if all the parties agreed to Mr Annan’s roadmap for political transition then there was “great hope that this perhaps can be a turning point in the very tragic circumstances affecting the Syrian people”.
In April, following months of bloodshed, the Syrian government agreed to a six-point peace plan. UN monitors were deployed to oversee a ceasefire but the truce never took hold and the monitors have suspended patrols.Mr Annan’s deputy envoy, Jean-Marie Guehenno, warned the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva on Wednesday that “time was running out”.
He was speaking shortly before a commission of inquiry gave details of its report on the one of the worst attacks on civilians since the conflict began – the 25 May Houla massacre in which 108 people died.
Commission chairman Paulo Pinheiro told the council that “forces loyal to the government may have been responsible for many of the deaths” but he said his team had been unable to determine who was behind the massacre.
Mr Pinheiro said the perpetrators were from one of three groups: “shabiha” or other local militia from neighbouring villages, perhaps acting with the army; anti-government armoured groups; or foreign groups.
“While the commission could not rule out the possibility of anti-government fighters being responsible for the killing, this was considered very much unlikely,” he said.
Syrian ambassador Faisal Khabbaz Hamoui condemned the meeting as “flagrantly political” and walked out of the hall.
Senior US intelligence officials have described the conflict between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the government as a “seesaw battle”, suggesting that it is likely to be a long, drawn-out struggle.
“The regime inner circle and those at the next level still seem to be holding fairly firm in support of the regime and Assad,” one official told Reuters.
The BBC’s Ian Pannell, who has spent the past two weeks with rebel groups in Idlib province, says that over the past two months there have been marked changes, with the rebels clearly getting weapons across the border and from the Syrian military.
The rebels are becoming more organised and are going on the offensive, he says, and are controlling large swathes of northern areas.
The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In June, the Syrian government reported that 6,947 Syrians had died, including at least 3,211 civilians and 2,566 security forces personnel.
When government troops overran the embattled Baba Amr district of Homs in March, there was a widespread feeling this marked the eclipse of the rebel Free Syrian Army. Three months on, the armed opposition has sprung back, not just in Homs but in almost all parts of the country – including the suburbs of Damascus, where the semi-official TV station al-Ikhbariya was stormed.
In late January, the Damascus suburbs were first on the list of targets in a concerted government campaign to reassert control over the whole country with an iron fist. It has failed so far. Residents in Damascus now spend their nights listening to explosions and shooting.
Homs remains a shattered battle-zone, with artillery pounding rebel-held quarters. Areas adjacent to borders are also the scenes of daily clashes. The official news agency Sana this week suddenly stopped reporting the funerals of military personnel killed in action. The average had gone up to more than 50 a day.
With no end in sight, President Assad has told his new cabinet that it is a real war. He is clearly right.
GENEVA – Foreign ministers from the global powers and Middle East countries will meet in Geneva on Saturday to work out a way to end the worsening conflict in Syria and bring about a political transition…
Syria government, rebels violate rights: U.N: GENEVA – Syrian government forces have committed human rights violations, including executions, across the country “on an alarming scale” during military operations in the past three months, United Nations investigators said on Wednesday…
Evidence gathered by UN investigators in Syria shows human rights violations, including executions “on an alarming scale”, according to a new report on a conflict that is spiralling into “deeper and more destructive violence” and in which sectarian motives now predominate.
Against a background of escalating bloodshed and global concern, with gunmen killing seven on Wednesday at a pro-regime TV station near Damascus, the foreign ministers of the world’s leading powers have been invited to meet in Geneva on Saturday in a desperate attempt to agree a political exit from the impasse.
On Tuesday, president Bashar al-Assad ratcheted up his own language by describing the crisis as “a real war” and pledged to do everything necessary to prevail. Assad had previously always blamed the uprising on “armed terrorist gangs” backed by the west and Arab countries.
Underlining the gravity of the situation, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights described the last week as the bloodiest yet in the 16-month uprising. Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said 916 people had been killed from 20 to 26 June. On Tuesday alone the reported death toll was 113, though these figures cannot be independently verified. Tank fire was reported from al-Qusair near Homs. Other attacks by government forces were reported on Wednesday in Deraa and Zamalka.
Kofi Annan, Syria envoy for the UN and the Arab League, said he had invited the five permanent members of the UN security council with Turkey and three Arab states to the Geneva conference, but there was no mention of Iran. Its presence was opposed by the US and UK, which warned they would not attend if Iran did.
Saudi Arabia, financing the fighters of the Syria Free Army, was also conspicuously left off the guest list to balance the absence of the Iranians, diplomats said.
The novelty of this event will be participation by Russia and China, which have vetoed action against Assad at the UN and shunned the western-Arab Friends of Syria grouping on the grounds that it is working against the Assad regime.
It is unclear, however, whether Moscow will accept the western view that Assad must step aside in favour of a transitional national unity government. Russia has always insisted it would not countenance regime change in Damascus. Britain’s foreign secretary, Wiliam Hague, said the meeting “must agree principles for a political transition.” Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said she hoped it could be a “turning point.”
If it is not, said officials in Washington and London, there will be renewed pressure to return to the security council to consider punitive measures.
Wednesday’s bomb and gun assault on al-Ikhbariya TV, south of the capital, was seen as further evidence of bolder tactics by armed anti-Assad rebels. It followed an opposition attack on the elite Republican Guard on the outskirts of Damascus on Tuesday. Al-Ikbhariya is privately owned but has been a loyal mouthpiece for the regime. The attack was condemned by the Syrian government and by journalists and activists. Amnesty International said:”Even a media organisation engaged in propaganda is still a civilian object, so it and those working for it must never be deliberately targeted.”
Annan’s deputy, Jean-Marie Guehenno, told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that violence across the country now matched or surpassed levels seen before the start of the notional ceasefire on 12 April. “Time is running out,” he warned. “Syria is spiralling into deeper and more destructive violence.”
Annan said in a statement that the new Action Group for Syria would identify steps and measures to secure full implementation of his failing six-point plan, including “an immediate cessation of violence in all its forms.” It should, he added “also agree on guidelines and principles for a Syrian-led political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people; and agree on actions that will make these objectives a reality on the ground.”
Investigators for the UN Human Rights Council reported that they were unable to determine who carried out a massacre of more than 100 people in Houla near Hama in May — an event which galvanised international attention — but it said that “forces loyal to the government may have been responsible for many of the deaths.”
“As a result of the reported flow of new weapons and ammunitions both to the government forces and to the anti-government armed groups, the situation risks becoming more aggravated in the coming months,” said the report’s author, Paulo Pinheiro.
Syria’s representative to the council, Faisal al-Hamwi, claimed there was a “global conspiracy” against Syria.
Russian diplomat Vassily Nebenzia said rebels were carrying out daily attacks on infrastructure and killing civilians. “Gunmen have been carrying out terrorist acts on Syrian cities. Such activities … are being fed with money and weapons from abroad,” he said.
The US ambassador Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe said: “The evidence is incontrovertible. The Assad regime is waging a brutal campaign against the Syrian people, characterised by aerial bombardment, mass killings, rape and other atrocities.”
The Syrian crisis has exposed the folly and weakness of Ankara’s attempts to become a regional superpower
Funny how times change. When the Bush administration sought permission to transit its Iraq invasion troops through Turkish territory in early 2003, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Ankara’s soon-to-be installed prime minister and his Justice and Development party (AKP) bluntly refused. Their bold defiance of America’s will won plaudits around the Arab world, not least from Syria.
With President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, not that of Saddam Hussein, now viewed in Ankara as a dangerous enemy, and with the prospect of a bilateral or regional conflict inching closer following Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish military plane, Erdogan has swiftly changed his tune. Unwilling to take on Assad by himself, Erdogan turned to the US and Nato for support this week. So much for Turkey’s much discussed “strategic realignment”.
Turkish commentators have stressed, with unconvincing vehemence, that despite eschewing a direct military response and seeking help from the western powers instead, Erdogan has not “lost face”. Mehmet Ali Birand, writing in Hurriyet, said the prime minister’s cautious reaction befitted a “serious” state. “Now it is Syria who should be thinking ahead because from now on life will be more difficult … Up to now, a verbal dispute was being experienced. Now it is two enemy nations openly confronting each other.”
But Erdogan’s vow to target Syrian military formations should they approach their shared border, support opposition forces “at any cost”, and do all he can to bring down the Assad dynasty, barely disguises the weakness of Turkey’s position. Ankara’s twin priorities are both domestic in nature: modernisation and economic growth. Turkey does not want, and cannot afford, a war along its southern border that would jeopardise these aims, further destabilise the Kurdish regions, and seriously compromise its broader regional interests. Assad, presumably, knows this well.
This inherent Turkish weakness was apparent before the Syrian uprising began last year. And it has been aggravated by a string of grave miscalculations by Turkey’s foreign policy triumvirate – Erdogan, the foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, and the president, Abdullah Gul – that have left the country largely unprepared to deal with recent events, not least the fall-out from the Arab spring.
Of the three, Davutoglu is the brains. A former professor of international relations dubbed the “Turkish Kissinger” (the nickname is intended as a compliment), Davutoglu coined the AKP’s trademark policy of “zero problems with neighbours”. In short, Turkey would strengthen its ties with the Arab countries it formerly colonised, act as a good faith conduit to Iran, and maintain a pragmatically positive relationship with Israel. In theory, all this would strengthen Turkey’s position as a burgeoning regional power and a hub where the west met the near east.
Some called the policy re-Ottomanisation. And for a while it seemed to be working, as Davutoglu argued in a Guardian interview in 2010. Regarding Syria in particular, old arguments about shared water resources, the disputed border province of Hatay, and Syria’s support for anti-Turkish Kurdish militants were set aside. Instead, in 2004, a free trade agreement was signed, visa-free travel was proposed, Gul and Erdogan made high-profile visits, and in 2009 the two countries held joint military exercises. Syrian commanders were invited to inspect Turkish border defences. This open-handedness appears unfortunate now.
So, too, does much else pertaining to Davutoglu’s self-interested, blind-eye good-neighbourliness. Relations with Israel went predictably pear-shaped after it shot up a pro-Palestinian freedom flotilla. Post-occupation Iraq under Nouri al-Maliki appears to prefer Tehran’s embrace to Ankara’s. Iran’s nuclear programmers have proven wholly unappreciative of Turkish mediation efforts. And the Kurdish question is as unanswered as ever, witness last week’s Turkish air raids inside northern Iraq – another reminder of Ankara’s ongoing ineffectuality.
Maybe Egypt, now under Muslim Brotherhood management, will have something to learn from Erdogan’s softly softly Islamist approach to Turkey’s secular, Ataturkist legacy. Chances are, not.
The Syrian crisis gives Turkey’s leaders an opportunity to reorient their country’s outlook, on the sounder basis of knowing who your real friends are, not who they might be. The US and Britain fall firmly into the first camp and so do most of the European Nato powers, notwithstanding the anti-Turkish sentiment encouraged by the unlamented Nicolas Sarkozy and some German soulmates. Russia is definitely no friend to Turkey, no more than will be Iran if push comes to bloody shove in Syria.
If growing bands of Syrian refugee “guests” and defectors, unpredictable military provocations, the threat to Lebanon, a ruined commerce and the Damascus regime’s generally reckless behaviour are not enough to convince Turkey’s leaders where the hope of safety best lies, then perhaps they should focus on one particular issue: Syria’s large arsenal of conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction.
The Christian Science Monitor highlighted the danger this week: “As Syria slides into ever worsening violence and parts of the country begin to slip out of control of the state, Syria’s chemical and biological weapons arsenal, air defence systems, and ballistic missiles could be up for grabs – a potential bonanza for radical militant groups and a massive challenge for the west in attempting to check proliferation.
“Hard data on Syria’s chemical and biological warfare capabilities is scarce, but the country is believed to have one of the largest chemical agents stockpiles in the world, including VX and Sarin nerve agents. It also has an impressive number of surface-to-surface missiles, such as Scud-Ds which can be fitted with chemical warheads, and modern Russian anti-aircraft missile batteries, including portable shoulder-fired systems.”
The prospect that some of these weapons might be used by a desperate regime bent on survival, or may fall into the hands of terrorist groups, however defined, is a daunting one. The ensuing chaos could easily trump what has happened in Libya and the Sahel after the fall of Gaddafi. It poses a potentially existential threat to Turkey and other neighbours. Hopefully, Erdogan and chums now fully understand this.
High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for more detail. Email email@example.com to buy additional rights. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/afb4d2d8-c033-11e1-982d-00144feabdc0.html#ixzz1z2YgMesPInternational efforts to end the bloodshed in Syria shifted into higher gear on Wednesday after Kofi Annan, the UN envoy, invited world powers to a ministerial conference on Saturday to endorse a political transition plan.
The diplomatic push came as gunmen stormed a pro-government television station in the Damascus suburbs on Wednesday, killing seven people – the most serious attack on regime-affiliated media in the 15-month-old uprising.
According to state news, the gunmen forced their way into the headquarters of al-Ikhbaryia, a satellite station, setting off explosives, killing staff and destroying studios.
Activists in Syria cited reports that the attack was perpetrated by defectors from the elite republican guard, a claim which, if confirmed, would signal growing tensions within the regime.
Meanwhile, the “Action Group for Syria” meeting in Geneva is expected to be attended by several regional states. But Iran, Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’schief ally, was not among those invited, despite Russia’s insistence. Saudi Arabia, which has backed the Syrian opposition, was also not invited.
The decision to hold the meeting came after Moscow signed off on a draft proposal that western diplomats say calls on Mr Assad to step aside and for a national unity government to be formed. That call is expected to be endorsed in Geneva.
A statement sent from Mr Annan’s office said the objectives of the action group were “to identify steps and measures” that would secure the full implementation of his peace plan, including a ceasefire and “guidelines and principles” for a transition.
Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, who is expected to attend the meeting, said that Mr Annan has developed “his own very concrete road map for political transition’’ from the Assad regime.
“We believe it embodies the principles needed for any political transition in Syria that could lead to a peaceful, democratic and representative outcome reflecting the will of the Syrian people,” she added.
Western diplomats, however, acknowledged there were still doubts about Moscow’s intentions and concerns that it would seek amendments that could alter the role of Mr Assad in a transition. Mrs Clinton is expected to try and secure Russia’s support for the proposed transition plan when she meets with Sergei Lavrov, Russian foreign minister, on Friday.
Asked if Russia now supported the political transition plan which would see Mr Assad stepping down, state department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said: “We would not be going to this Geneva meeting if we didn’t think that there were improved chances for unity among the participants on the way forward.”
Moscow’s potential agreement to a transition along the lines advocated by western powers would mark a significant turning point in international diplomacy, following more than a year of bitter disagreement between Russia and western powers.
Until now Russia has insisted that, although it is not wedded to Mr Assad, he should be part of the solution to Syria’s crisis, which has gradually evolved from a popular uprising to a civil war. The US, Europe and several Arab states, however, say a ceasefire cannot take hold until the terms of a political transition are spelled out.
The meeting comes amid growing alarm over escalating violence in Syria and the failure of Mr Annan’s six-point plan. Mr Annan’s deputy on Wednesday told the UN Human Rights Council that violence may now be above levels seen before April’s short-lived ceasefire.
Jean-Marie Guehenno said government forces were seeking to reclaim urban centres under opposition control, directing their military efforts at larger towns with “a combination of helicopters, armoured units, artillery, and infantry, supplemented by militia forces.” The opposition, which has become increasingly militarised, has also “increased the tempo of their military operations.”
A report presented on Wednesday said the situation had changed “dramatically” in Syria in the past three months as rebels have begun pursuing insurgency-style tactics amid a fresh influx of weapons to both sides.
The concern was illustrated by Wednesday’s deadly raid on the television station.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-affiliated monitoring group based in the UK, confirmed the deaths, saying they were the first pro-government media workers to be killed in the uprising.
Omran al-Zoubi, the information minister, linked the attack to the EU’s decision on Tuesday to place sanctions on some state-run media, as well as a recent decision by the Arab League to try and get two pan-Arab satellite operators to stop broadcasting Syrian TV channels.
“We hold the EU and Arab and international organizations responsible for this massacre,” said Mr Zoubi. “Those who committed this crime had carried out the decision of the Arab League Council to silence the voice of Syria.”