UN Observers in Syria Attacked as Civil War Continues (INN) ISRAEL NATIONAL NEWS) By Elad Benari 06/13/12)
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UN observers in Syria were attacked on Tuesday with stones, metal
rods and gunfire that blocked them from a besieged rebel-held town,
where civilians were feared trapped by government shelling.
The Associated Press reported that the UN observers were not hurt as
they were turned back by the assault on their vehicles by an angry
crowd near the town of Haffa. The source of the gunfire was not clear.
Activists blamed regime loyalists for the attack. The violence raised
questions about the ability of about 300 unarmed monitors to provide
a useful assessment of a country that is spiraling toward civil war.
“All UN observers are now back at their bases and are secure,” Sausan
Ghosheh, a spokeswoman for UN observers in Syria, was quoted by AP as
having said. She added monitors have been trying to reach Haffa since
Meanwhile, the UN´s peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous, said the
Syrian conflict had escalated into civil war.
“Yes, I think one can say that,” Ladsous was quoted as having told
news agencies in an interview.
A spokesman for Ladsous, Kieran Dwyer, told AP that UN observers have
seen a steep rise in violence and a dangerous shift in tactics by
both sides in Syria in the last five days.
He said the Syrian government, intent on wresting back control of
rebel-held areas, is shelling heavily populated districts and using
attack helicopters over cities “with devastating impact on
civilians.” The opposition, in turn, is increasingly coordinating
attacks against government forces and civilian infrastructure,
and “the conflict has reached all parts of Syria virtually,” he said.
The deteriorating situation in Haffa has raised alarm in the past
eight days, and Washington said on Monday that regime forces may be
preparing a massacre in the village, which is about 20 miles from
President Bashar Assad´s hometown of Kardaha in Latakia.
Activists said government forces were firing mortar rounds into the
The UN’s special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, renewed calls Tuesday
for the bloodshed to end. Annan brokered a peace plan that was
supposed to go into effect April 12 but never took hold.
“It is totally unacceptable and it must stop,” Annan’s spokesman,
Ahmad Fawzi, was quoted by AP as having said, “and that is why Annan
has invited governments with influence to raise the bar to another
level, to the highest level possible, and twist arms if necessary, to
get the parties to implement the plan.”
Meanwhile on Tuesday, the U.S. accused Russia of escalating the
Syrian conflict by sending attack helicopters to President Bashar
“We are concerned about the latest information we have that there are
attack helicopters on the way from Russia to Syria, which will
escalate the conflict quite dramatically,” Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton said in Washington.
There was no immediate reaction from the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Moscow insists that any arms it supplies to its Damascus ally are not
being used against anti-government protesters in the 15-month-old
On Monday, the UN charged that Assad’s armed forces kill and sexually
attack children and use them as human shields.
“In almost all recorded cases, children were among the victims of
military operations by government forces, including the Syrian armed
forces, the intelligence forces and the shabiha militia, in their
ongoing conflict with the opposition, including the Free Syrian
Army,” the UN stated in its annual report on children and armed
Syrian opposition sources claimed last week that aircraft belonging
to the Syrian Air Force dropped toxic material into the province of
Daraa, which smells like sulfur and causes drowsiness and
It was also reported that Assad’s forces had used unidentified gas
shells on civilians in Daraa, Hama and Deir ez-Zor.
In a meeting with the Druze community in the Golan Heights on
Saturday, Deputy Minister MK Ayoub Kara was presented with evidence
that clearly indicates the use of chemical weapons by the Assad
regime, including photos of big black clouds suspected of containing
chemical material that were fired over the areas where battles
between rebels and regime forces have been taking place.
(IsraelNationalNews © 2012 06/13/12)
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