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Rebels lose hope as Assad pushes on

SYRIAN activists said yesterday they were losing hope of unseating President Bashar al-Assad as regime troops continued to attack dwindling rebel strongholds, ignoring international demands for a ceasefire.

The peace plan, accepted by the Syrian government on Tuesday, calls for a UN-supervised cessation of armed violence in all its forms by all parties.

Kofi Annan, the UN's peace envoy, told Mr Assad that as a show of good will his forces must be the first to withdraw. But the violence continued yesterday as government troops used helicopters to attack opposition villages, weeding out rebels in the Idlib province.

"The Free Syrian Army can't face the troops in this eastern countryside," said activist Nourlddin al-Abdo. "It is flat and they have nowhere to hide."

Rebels said it would take a "miracle" for the peace plan to succeed.

"The Syrian government wants to finish the Free Syrian Army no matter what. They have pushed them into one area. Now they are shelling the border areas to cut weapons supply lines," said one activist.

After flattening the Baba Amr stronghold in Homs, the regime has moved to crush the remaining bolt-holes in Idlib and the Az Zawiyah mountains. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent