SYRIAN troops armed with heavy machine guns killed at least 33 people in the central city of Hama yesterday, activists said, a day after protesters welcomed a visit by a UN team sent to observe a shaky ceasefire.
The city's worst violence in months added a dangerous aspect to the UN team's work amid fears the Syrian regime might exact revenge against opponents who may feel empowered by the observers' presence and spill into the streets.
Observance of the truce, which was supposed to begin on April 12, has been patchy at best. The main manifestation has been a temporary halt to fighting between president Bashar Assad's troops and rebel forces in locations where observers are present.
The UN's political chief B Lynn Pascoe told the Security Council that the Syrian government was still using heavy weapons and had failed to implement the peace plan.
Some details of yesterday's events in Hama remained murky, though different activists said the attacks started early in the morning and stopped a few hours later after dozens of people had been killed.