Syria forces hit rebels, US doubts Assad compliance
SYRIA: Syrian forces pressed a crackdown on rebel bastions Wednesday
despite a truce pledge, with the United States voicing doubts that
President Bashar al-Assad will comply with a peace plan deadline.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said troops stormed and
shelled several towns or villages, with 52 people killed around the
country, including 28 civilians, with most of the casualties in the city
and province of Homs.
While the US State Department criticised the “intensification” of
violence against opponents of the regime, Russia said the opposition
would never defeat Assad's army even if “armed to the teeth.” Rami Abdel
Rahman, head of the Britain-based Observatory, told AFP that “from the
Turkish border in the northeast to Daraa in the south, military
operations are ongoing.” “Tanks are still shelling or storming towns and
villages before going back to their bases,” he added. “That does not
mean they are withdrawing.” The assaults were taking place despite
Assad's pledge to implement by April 10 a six-point peace plan brokered
by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
Former UN chief Annan said Monday that Assad had agreed to start
“immediately” pulling out troops under a six-point peace plan.
However US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in
Washington Wednesday that “we've yet to be convinced that they have any
intention of complying with the April 10 deadline”.
The Observatory has charged that the army was torching and looting
rebel houses across the country in a campaign that could amount to
crimes against humanity.
The Syrian National Council, the main opposition bloc, accused the
regime of carrying out “a policy of genocide against the Syrian people”
and called for immediate pressure from the international community for a
pullback of tanks.
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, meanwhile, predicted that
under-equipped rebel forces would never be able to defeat Syria's
“It is clear as day that even if the Syrian opposition is armed to
the teeth, it will not be able to defeat the government's army,” the
Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying while on a visit to the
ex-Soviet nation of Azerbaijan. AFP