Syrian army still targeting civilians despite cease fire deadline looming
The Syrian military fired into a crowd of unarmed women in Homs yesterday, killing two and wounding 4. That's just one incident that occurred on Thursday as the Syrian army continued to use tanks and artillery in restive population centers.
The renewed violence erupted a day after U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the conflict was worsening and attacks on civilian areas persisted, despite assurances from Damascus that its troops had begun withdrawing under the plan.
Annan said both the government and opposition must stop fighting at 6 a.m. Syrian time on April 12, if Damascus meets its deadline 48 hours earlier to pull back troops from cities and cease heavy weapons use in populated areas.
But activists reported tank fire in at least three urban centers on Friday - the town of Douma near Damascus, the restive city of Homs and Rastan, north of Homs.
"Tanks went into Douma last night, then they left. Today at 7:00 in the morning they came back. There has been shelling on Douma since the morning. We are not sure if people were killed but the shelling did not stop," a local activist said.
"At least 5 tanks and 10 buses loaded with security men and Shabiha (pro-Assad militia) entered Douma," he said.
In Rastan, "the tanks began advancing in the morning, then the fighters from the Free Army went out and confronted them," said one activist. "They blocked the advance and the Assad army left. Then artillery started."
Even if the cease fire takes hold, it probably won't last long. The opposition group the Syrian National Council has said they will not negotiate until Assad is out of power. And Assad has said that the rebels must disarm before he will talk to them.
This is a recipe for more war -- something we are likely to see within days of Kofi Annan's carefully negotiated "cease fire."