Fears for security of unarmed observers in Syria as bomb narrowly misses UN monitor convoy

 

Beirut

Fears for the security of unarmed observers in Syria were heightened today after a roadside bomb struck an army truck accompanying a convoy of UN monitors, amid mounting warnings that the country risks slipping into a full scale civil war.

Major General Robert Mood, the head of the UN monitoring mission who was one of 12 observers in the convoy, described the attack as "a graphic example of violence that the Syrian people do not need". Six Syrian soldiers were reported to have been wounded in the blast, and although UN vehicles remained unscathed, the incident was an uncomfortably close call for the organisation.

Widespread violence has continued to ravage the country despite the presence of 70 UN peacekeepers, tasked with monitoring a month-old ceasefire that in reality never took hold, making their mission particularly risky. Today’s incident came a day after the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan gave a bleak update of the situation on the ground, warning that his six point peace plan - of which the ceasefire is a component - is the country's last chance to avert a disastrous civil war.

The UN cars, which were also transporting a number of journalists, had passed the point where the blast took place, and were about 100 meters further down the road when explosion struck the Syrian army truck at the back of the convoy. Footage from the scene showed the white flatbed truck with a cracked windscreen and bloodied Syrian soldiers.

The indented target of the attack was unclear, and no group had claimed responsibility last night. It is not the first near-miss for observers, however, with a blast in Idlib in late April striking close to the hotel where they were staying. “For me the important thing is really not speculating about who was the target, what was the target, but it is to make the point that this is what the Syrian people [are] seeing every day and it needs to stop,” said Maj Gen Mood. 

The Syrian National Council is among opposition groups to accuse the government of a dirty tricks campaign - staging bombings to fit their narrative that terrorist groups are causing the unrest. However, activists on the ground have admitted that the rebels, poorly matched against the Syrian army’s firepower, have increasingly turned to improvised explosives. “We make homemade bombs, some of them work with car-key remotes,” said one activist with links to the Free Syrian Army during a recent visit to Lebanon.

In his comments to the UN Security Council before today’s attack Mr Annan said the levels of violence were “unacceptable”, with abuses by both sides. He warned that a civil war in Syria will have much “frightening” ramifications in a such a tinderbox region. Violence spilled over Syria’s borders again today as a 70-year-old woman in the Lebanese border village of al-Qaa was shot dead and her daughter was injured by gunfire from Syria.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones