Last updated: 28 May, 2012

At least 36 killed across Syria as clashes rage

Violence raged on Monday across Syria, where at least 36 people, most of them regime forces, were reported killed as clashes erupted in several restive provinces, monitors said.

The deadly violence came even as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus to try to salvage a battered ceasefire, a day after monitors reported 90 people killed in Syria, more than a third of them in the central city of Hama.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes raged in several provinces on Monday, including Idlib in the northwest and Daraa in the south, where the uprising against the regime first erupted more than 14 months ago.

Five civilians were among those killed on Monday, including a 14-year-old boy who was shot dead by a sniper in Hama’s Al-Faria neighbourhood, the Britain-based Observatory said.

Another two civilians, including an old man, were shot dead inside their home in Nawa, in southern Daraa, by regime forces, the watchdog added.

Three rebel fighters and a member of the pro-regime shabiha militia were also killed by gunfire on Monday.

But the military had the heaviest death toll with at least 21 regular army soldiers killed in separate fighting, the Observatory said.

Eight troops died in clashes in Damascus province while seven others were killed elsewhere in the province when their vehicle was targeted near Tal Mneen, site of a mass funeral for a civilian killed on Sunday.

Three other soldiers were killed when their vehicle was hit by a blast on the road to Aleppo airport road, the Observatory said. Another three were killed in Dael, in Daraa.

In eastern Deir Ezzor, four civilians were shot dead by regime forces, the watchdog added.

Also on Monday regime forces deployed heavily on the outskirts of Houla, central Syria, where at least 108 civilians were massacred on Friday and Saturday, the Observatory said, adding that “the sound of gunfire was heard.”

Regime troops also raided a neighbourhood of Hama, site of intense clashes and shelling on Sunday evening.

Violence killed nearly 90 people on Sunday, 34 of them in random shelling of Hama city by troops retaliating for losses suffered in clashes with rebels, the watchdog said.

A video posted on YouTube by an unidentified activist in Hama showed a house destroyed by what the man described as “arbitrary” shelling, with massive holes in the wall, electricity cables hanging from the ceiling, and charred furniture.

“Where are Bashar’s reforms, O Arabs?” cried the man in the video, referring to a reform process announced by President Bashar al-Assad last year.

“O Muslims, we are getting killed, and you are silent. Our children are getting shot in the chest … God curse you, Bashar.”

Demonstrators took to the streets in towns and villages across the country on Monday, to protest against the killings in Houla and Hama, activists said.

Crowds of children protested in two Idlib towns, while hundreds took to the streets of Jabal al-Zawiya, also in Idlib.

“Resist, resist!” chanted some of the protesters. “The UN is killing us,” read a poster held up by a demonstrator, according to amateur videos posted on YouTube by activists.

More than 280 unarmed military observers are in Syria to monitor a cessation of hostilities that started officially on April 12 but lurches closer to collapse each day.

And Damascus shopowners staged an “unprecedented” strike in Al-Hariqa market, near the historic Hamidiyeh market, also to protest the killings, said the Observatory.

More than 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, according to the Observatory.