independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Syrian jets shatter hopes for peace with city blitz

Syrian air force jets bombed rebellious suburbs of Damascus yesterday, leaving the United Nations-backed ceasefire in tatters.

Rebels also fought street battles with Bashar al-Assad's forces in the Syrian capital, while clashes were reported along the main Aleppo- Damascus highway as the civil war continued unabated.

The violence came on the third day of what was meant to be a four-day truce to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. The ceasefire began on Friday morning, but failed to take hold from the start. According to a British-based monitoring group, Syrian warplanes struck the eastern Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, Harasta and Zamalka yesterday.

Harasta is a key supply route for the rebel-held suburb of Douma on the northern outskirts. Reports suggested eight people were killed.

Unfinished

Meanwhile in Douma itself, rebels wrested three positions from regime forces, including an unfinished high-rise building used by regime snipers.

Intense fighting continues in the suburbs, with the government claiming repeated bombings by what it calls "militant terrorists" and activists claiming repeated atrocities by regime forces.

Mousab Azzawi, of the London-based Syrian Network of Human Rights, said members of a pro-Assad militia had started to dump the bodies of up to 200 men who had disappeared from the district of Modamiat al-Sham in the last week on roadsides. There was no independent verification.

Fighting was also reported yesterday near Maaret al-Numan, a town along the Aleppo-Damascus highway. On Saturday, the second day of the ceasefire, the death toll was estimated at between 91 and 114, including five women and six children.

The figures are lower than in the worst days of the fighting in the last two months but give no sign of hope of the truce being extended or becoming a longer-term peace settlement, the ambition of Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN envoy who negotiated the truce, the first in six months. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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