Syria deaths rise despite UN call
Anti-Syrian regime activists cover their faces with Syrian revolution flag cloths as they prepare a banner to be held in a protest on March 21. Meanwhile, a Syrian opposition group criticizes the UN’s recent statement as gaining time for al-Assad.Fierce clashes raged across Syria despite the U.N. Security Council’s call for peace, with 10 civilians on a bus trying to flee to Turkey among at least 26 people killed yesterday, monitors and activists said. The bus, with women and children on board, was fired upon near the town of Sermin in the northwestern province of Idlib, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. An opposition activist, Milad Fadl, said the civilians were headed for Turkey to escape the bloodshed.
The escalation of violence came just hours after the Security Council passed a statement urging President Bashar al-Assad and his foes to implement “fully and immediately” international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan. Meanwhile, Syria yesterday played up the lack of any threat or ultimatum in the U.N. Security Council’s statement. State news agency SANA noted that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov welcomed the measure, stressing “the document does not contain any ultimatums, threats or assertions as to who is guilty.”
Syria says no ultimatum
The SANA report was headlined “No warnings or signals in the statement.” The U.N. statement did not satisfy the Syrian opposition, who said the statement will simply give the regime more time to continue killing its own people. “Such statements, issued amid continued killings, offer the regime the opportunity to push ahead with its repression in order to crush the Syrian people’s revolt,” said Samir Nashar, a member of the Syrian National Council. On the ground, Syrian troops fired rocket-propelled grenades into northern Lebanon on the night of March 21, sparking panic among the local population but no casualties, a Lebanese security official said.
Syrian army forces attacked several towns, while rebel fighters struck army posts in several provinces and announced a command structure to coordinate hit-and-run strikes in and around the capital. On the rebel side, the Free Syrian Army has set up a military council to coordinate hit-and-run strikes around Damascus, it announced in an online video. “I, Colonel Khaled Mohammed al-Hammud, announce the creation of the military council for Damascus and the region that will be in charge of FSA operations in this region,” a former army officer says in the video.