Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre: SUMMARY (12/04/2012): At least 22 martyrs have fallen today and 16 more bodies were found in Deir Baalbah in Homs, victims of the recent mass killings there. The shelling has not stopped completely, but thankfully is much reduced. However, with all the discussion about the degree of compliance with today’s “ceasefire” we want to make clear that the regime’s crackdown has not ended – mass arrests, torture, sniper fire, the deprivation of food, water, fuel, electricity and medical care, the restriction of movement and violence against protests are all continuing as usual. See the map for more info. Syria – Thursday 12/04/2012 – Google Maps
[local time] 22:24 British Foreign Secretary William Hague on Thursday hailed the ceasefire in Syria as “a first fragile step” towards peace but expressed concern over President Bashar al-Assad’s commitment to the plan.
22:03 French FM Alain Juppe said Thursday that Paris has evidence Syria committed crimes against humanity, AFP reported.
21:38 Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday accused the Syrian regime of failing to abide by the ceasefire and peace plan hammered out by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
21:12 A draft resolution on the deployment of a UN observer mission in Syria will be submitted Thursday at the United Nations, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said.
20:20 The head of the opposition Syrian National Council on Thursday urged people to demonstrate against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in a test of a ceasefire that entered in to force at dawn.
20:19 The UN Security Council could pass a resolution on Friday so that an international observer force can start work in Syria next week, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said.
19:58 US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that the ceasefire in Syria is an “important step” if it holds and urged Damascus to implement special envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.
19:14 Presidents Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Barack Obama of the United States demanded Thursday that Syria respect the terms of a peace plan drawn up by a UN envoy and the Arab League.
19:01 Thursday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 18 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
18:56 The Syrian Interior Ministry said on Thursday that people wanting to stage demonstrations should request permits, in an apparent anticipation of protests after a UN-backed ceasefire entered into force.
18:49 Syrian forces on Thursday attacked protesters in front of the parliament building in Damascus and arrested a number of them, Al-Jazeera television quoted the Local Coordination Committees as saying.
18:42 Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Thursday hailed news that a ceasefire appeared to be holding in Syria, where a conflict has killed thousands since March last year.
18:29 Al-Arabiya television is broadcasting live footage of an anti-regime protest in Daraa’s Al-Harak.
18:26 International envoy Kofi Annan said Thursday that Syria has not adhered to his peace plan and called on the UN Security Council to demand that troops are pulled out of cities despite a fragile ceasefire.
18:14 The United States appeared set to urge Russia to ensure its ally Damascus adheres to Thursday’s precarious ceasefire as Group of Eight foreign ministers resume their talks.
18:06 Syrian forces on Thursday opened fire on an anti-regime protest in Hama’s Qalaat al-Madiq, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
17:47 Thursday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 11 people, Al-Arabiya television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution as saying.
17:39 United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said on Thursday that plans were being made to send observers to Syria, starting with the dispatch of a UN peacekeeping general as early as Friday.
17:29 Syrian rebels are fully committed to a UN-backed ceasefire which came into effect on Thursday, its spokesperson said, accusing the regime of provoking the rebels to draw them into violating the truce.
15:52 Lebanon has increased diesel imports to transfer some of the fuel to Syrian regime forces, the Free Lebanon radio station reported on Thursday.
15:27 A “terrorist” attack killed a Syrian army officer and wounded 24 other people in second-largest city Aleppo on Thursday, state media said, accusing rebels of seeking to “torpedo” a UN-backed peace plan.
15:18 Syrian forces on Thursday shelled the area of Deir Moqren near Damascus, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
15:11 Syrian forces on Thursday opened fire on people participating in a funeral outside Al-Anwar Mosque in Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television quoted the General Commission of the Syrian Revolution a saying.
14:43 Syrian gunfire targeting refugees trying to cross into Turkey hit a camp on the Turkish side of the border on Thursday, the Anatolia news agency reported, the third such incident in a week.
14:06 Syria on Thursday urged tens of thousands of displaced people who took refuge inside or outside the country due to violence to return home, as a UN-backed ceasefire took effect.
13:34 Three civilians have been killed in Syria and dozens arrested since a ceasefire began early Thursday, a spokesperson for the main opposition group the Syrian National Council said.
13:12 Global activist group Avaaz said on Thursday that Syrian security forces violated the ceasefire in five areas, Al-Arabiya reported.
13:03 The Syrian army shelled Homs’ neighborhood of Al-Qarabees on Thursday, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
12:58 Syrian anti-regime protesters were fired upon in Abu Kamal, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Thursday.
12:51 NATO said Thursday it takes its responsibility to defend allies “extremely seriously” after member state Turkey said it may seek help after shootings along its border with Syria.
11:13 Military vehicles were still stationed in Syria’s Edleb after a UN-backed deadline for an end to 13 months of bloodshed that has killed thousands passed Thursday, Al-Arabiya television reported.
10:58 British Prime Minister David Cameron urged Russia and China on Thursday to join the international community and help “tighten the noose” on the Syrian regime over its deadly crackdown on protests.
10:54 Syrian security forces opened fire in the area surrounding Edleb, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying on Thursday.
10:40 The head of the opposition Syrian National Council on Thursday urged people to demonstrate against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, in a test of a ceasefire that entered in to force at dawn.
10:28 Russia called for more time on Thursday for international envoy Kofi Annan’s Syrian peace plan to work, as a ceasefire to end months of violence came into force with no major reports of violations.
10:08 China’s Foreign Ministry on Thursday welcomed what it called the Syrian government’s decision to uphold a “comprehensive ceasefire” and withdraw troops from some cities.
7:30 MORNING LEADER: A UN-backed deadline for an end to 13 months of bloodshed in Syria that has killed thousands passed Thursday amid doubts about the regime’s compliance with the ceasefire terms.
7:21 Strife-torn Syria remained calm one hour after a ceasefire set by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan came into force at daybreak, monitors said.
6:03 A ceasefire in Syria came into effect at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) in line with an ultimatum set by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan aimed at ending violence that has killed thousands over 13 months.
6:02 France wants to send UN observers to monitor a ceasefire in Syria to verify whether both sides are adhering to the terms of a peace plan, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday.
6:01 Britain will boost support for Syria’s opposition and seek tougher sanctions if government forces do not adhere to a ceasefire, Foreign Secretary William Hague warned Wednesday.
6:00 Saudi Defense Minister Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz held talks at the Pentagon on Wednesday that focused on the crisis in Syria, hours before a ceasefire deadline was due to expire.
Syrian opposition activists called mass protests for Friday to test a fragile, day-old ceasefire by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, and international pressure mounted for Damascus to fully comply with a U.N.-backed peace plan.
Anxious to build on a truce between the armed forces and rebels which brought an eerie calm to Syria on Thursday, after more than a year of clashes, the U.N. Security Council worked on a resolution authorizing U.N. observers to monitor it.
World leaders welcomed the halt in fighting which had threatened to spill over into neighboring countries and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the situation looked calmer.
“The world is watching, however, with skeptical eyes since many promises previously made by the government of Syria have not been kept,” he told a news conference in Geneva.
Along with the withdrawal of forces from population centers, U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point plan calls for talks with the opposition aimed at a “political transition”, the release of political prisoners, access for humanitarian aid and journalists, and for the authorities to “respect freedom of association and the right to demonstrate peacefully”.
Burhan Ghalioun, head of the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC), said he did not trust the authorities to allow the renewal of protests after Friday prayers, a feature of the uprising that has been subdued by violence in recent months.
The authorities, he said, had their “hand on the trigger”.
“While we call on the Syrian people to protest strongly… we ask them to be cautious because the regime will not respect the ceasefire and will shoot,” he told Reuters.
The Syrian Interior Ministry said only pre-authorized demonstrations would be permitted by police, a caveat which the opposition said did not bode well.
“This is ridiculous,” said an activist called Musab from Hama city, a focus of opposition activity and government bombardment along with Homs and Idlib. “They will not give you permission and you will be taken to jail if you ask for it”.
He said a demonstration on Wednesday in the town of Qalat Madiq, in Hama province, had been broken up by security forces firing, and nine people were arrested. Most independent media are banned from Syria, making such reports impossible to verify.
In Homs, where opposition stronghold districts were all but deserted, activist Yazan expressed doubt people would dare to go out because snipers, tanks and soldiers were still in place. “People are wary and they believe that this ceasefire is only temporary. Nobody is leaving their homes,” he said.
The SNC’s spokesman said Assad could simply not afford to stop shooting, since that would allow a new wave of mass protests against his family’s four decades of absolute power.
“As soon as there is a real ceasefire, people will come out to the streets, demonstrating and demanding his removal, his stepping down. So I think the regime has to retaliate by opening fire again,” spokesman Bassam Imadi told Reuters in Istanbul. “But let’s hope for the better.”
Annan, mandated by the United Nations and Arab League, has called for 200 to 250 unarmed U.N. observers to monitor the ceasefire.
A similar Arab League mission ended in disarray amid mounting violence in January, but Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the 15-member Security Council could adopt a resolution authorizing the deployment of a U.N. observer force as early as Friday.
“The full-fledged mission will take some time to deploy … If we are able to put 20 or 30 monitors (there) early next week, very good,” Churkin said. “If we are able to put more in the next few days that’s even better.”
A draft resolution drawn up by the United States would have the Council authorize an initial deployment of up to 30 observers and demand the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from population centers and an end to violence on all sides.
It included a vague threat of future action against Damascus, saying the council “expresses its determination, in the event that the Syrian government does not implement its commitments, to consider further measures as appropriate”.
It was not immediately clear how Russia and China, which vetoed two previous resolutions condemning Assad’s 13-month assault on anti-government protesters, reacted to the draft, which diplomats discussed behind closed doors on Thursday.
Most of the demands in it were addressed to the Syrian government, which could irritate Moscow and Beijing. Both have welcomed the ceasefire while emphasizing the requirement for rebel forces to comply.
The United States and European Union have imposed their own sanctions against Damascus after failing to persuade Russia and China to join in.
Moscow and Beijing are wary of further U.N. moves, alarmed by the way last year’s Security Council resolution on Libya led to military intervention, though Western leaders are also cautious about intervening in Syria’s mix of religious and ethnic groups.
Ban said there had been a surge in Syrian refugees fleeing to Turkey and Lebanon this week and an estimated 1 million people inside Syria now needed humanitarian assistance.
He was urging Assad to keep his promise and to exercise maximum restraint, he said.
“This ceasefire process is very fragile – it may be broken any time if, and when, there is another gunshot,” Ban said. “This is a very worrisome.”
(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau and Michelle Nichols at the United Nations, Stephanie Nebehay and Tom Miles in Geneva, Oliver Holmes and Douglas Hamilton in Beirut, Michael Holdenin London and Balazs Koranyi in Oslo; writing by Philippa Fletcher; editing by Jon Boyle)
- France, U.S. call on Syria to abide by ceasefire plan: 3:38pm EDT
- U.S. backs sending advance team to Syria: Clinton:3:38pm EDT
- Fight against Assad just begun, Syrians in Turkey say:3:38pm EDT
- U.N. meets on draft to authorize Syria observer force: 6:52pm EDT
- U.N. draft calls for up to 30 unarmed Syria observers
BBC: UN to send Syria truce monitors: The UN is preparing to send monitors to Syria to observe a fragile ceasefire, which has come into force after more than a year of violence which has left thousands dead.