Douglas's Feed
Apr 18, 2012

U.N. sees need for more Syria observers, aircraft

BEIRUT (Reuters) – A United Nations mission to oversee an end to violence in Syria may need to bring in its own aircraft and deploy more troops to ensure that a firm ceasefire takes hold throughout the country, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

A six-day-old truce has held in some parts of Syria since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it last week. But in strong opposition areas such as Homs, Hama, Idlib and Deraa the army continues to attack and battle rebels, using heavy weapons in violation of the pledge by Damascus to pull back.

Apr 17, 2012

Syria violence puts UN mission in question

* Army shelling reported in south, centre, north

* Embryo UN monitoring mission may be in doubt

* Speculation over Norway general’s role in mission

By Douglas Hamilton

BEIRUT, April 17(Reuters) – Unrelenting bloodshed in Syria
complicated preparations by a team of U.N. observers on Tuesday
to monitor a truce that has brought only short-lived breaks in
violence since President Bashar al-Assad pledged to enforce it
last week.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, relaying reports
from anti-Assad activists, said at least two people were killed
and dozens wounded by shelling as troops sought to take control
of the town of Basr al-Harir in the southern province of Deraa,
which activists say has been a rebel stronghold.

Apr 16, 2012

Shelling, shaky truce challenge UN few in Syria

BEIRUT, April 16 (Reuters) – A handful of soldiers in blue
caps put a tentative United Nations presence at the heart of the
Syrian crisis on Monday, predicting success for their mission to
stabilise a shaky four-day-old ceasefire even as shells were
still falling.

Charged with overseeing an end to 13 months of violence, the
unarmed multinational squad of six professed their optimism.

Apr 13, 2012

Five killed on 2nd day of Syria truce

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Four protesters were shot dead in Syria on Friday and an army officer was killed on the second day of a nationwide ceasefire meant to open a path to peaceful political dialogue after 13 months of extreme violence.

The fatal shootings occurred as demonstrators rallied against President Bashar al-Assad, who has accepted the terms of the United Nations-brokered ceasefire which took effect on Thursday and calls on the army and rebels to stop shooting.

Apr 12, 2012

Quiet but spooky on Syria’s empty streets of battle

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The systematic shelling and shooting may have ceased but there was nothing like a return to normal life on Thursday in opposition quarters of cities that have been hammered by Syrian tanks and artillery for the past weeks, activists reported.

The ceasefire brokered by U.N. envoy Kofi Annan took effect at dawn. By noon, streets in the battleground districts were still silent and empty, cluttered with the debris of high explosive blasts, activist videos showed.

Apr 11, 2012

Fighting rages in countdown to Syria truce

BEIRUT, April 12 (Reuters) – Syria was due to observe a
ceasefire from dawn on Thursday, but its fierce attacks on
opposition neighbourhoods in the run up to the U.N. deadline
fuelled widespread doubts it would comply.

The Syrian army also showed few signs of withdrawing troops
from urban areas, something supposed to have begun on Tuesday
under the peace plan agreed with international envoy Kofi Annan.

Apr 11, 2012

Syrians, under bombardment, mock “ceasefire”

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian troops pummelled opposition neighbourhoods in the city of Homs with heavy mortars on Wednesday after peace envoy Kofi Annan said Damascus had again promised to respect a ceasefire due to take effect in little more than 12 hours.

“Annan, this is your ceasefire,” ran the sarcastic voiceover on an activist video that showed a shopping mall engulfed in flames after it was hit in bombardment of the Juret al-Shayah quarter. Sniper fire cracked out incessantly in the background.

Apr 11, 2012

Syrian military on offensive before truce deadline

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria has assured the United Nations it will respect a ceasefire with rebels due to take effect in less than 24 hours, peace envoy Kofi Annan said on Wednesday, but President Bashar al-Assad’s forces kept up attacks in several cities.

Western powers have scorned Assad’s pledges, but have come up with no effective policy to curb the bloodshed, given their own aversion to military intervention and the resistance of Russia and China to any U.N. Security Council action.

Apr 8, 2012

Violence dims Syria truce hopes, over 100 killed

BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian troops pounded opposition areas, activists said, killing 74 civilians in an offensive that has sent thousands of refugees surging into Turkey before next week’s U.N.-backed ceasefire aimed at staunching a year of bloodshed.

At least 15 rebels and 17 security force members were also killed, raising the death toll in violence to over 100.

Apr 7, 2012

Violence dims Syria truce hopes, 53 killed

BEIRUT, April 7 (Reuters) – Syrian troops pounded opposition
areas on Saturday, activists said, killing 53 people in an
offensive that has sent thousands of refugees surging into
Turkey before next week’s U.N.-backed ceasefire aimed at
staunching a year of bloodshed.

Each side has accused the other of intensifying assaults in
the run-up to the truce due to take effect early on Thursday if
government forces begin pulling back from towns 48 hours earlier
in line with U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan.