Twelve killed as Syrian troops shell Damascus suburbs

 

Syrian government troops shelled suburbs of the capital Damascus, killing at least 12 people in a stepped-up regime offensive on rebel areas around the country, activists said today. 

Most of the deaths occurred overnight in the restive suburb of Douma, where regime forces fired mortars that struck a residential building, killing eight people. 

Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed and the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which relies on a network of activists on the ground, said that four people were killed in the shelling of Arbeen and Tall suburbs. 

"The regime is trying to purge the suburbs of the capital of all resistance," Saeed said. He said the fire on the suburbs was indiscriminate and that a man, his wife and their child died when a mortar shell hit their apartment in Arbeen. 

Saeed said UN observers deployed in Syria to monitor the ceasefire, which never really took hold, have not been to Douma in over a week. "But anyway, all they can do is record what they see, they cannot help," he said. 

There are nearly 300 monitors currently in Syria to follow up on a peace plan brokered by special international envoy Kofi Annan, which now seems to be disintegrating. The regime and the opposition have ignored the cease-fire, which was supposed to go into effect April 12, and the recent escalation is raising questions about how effective the unarmed monitors can be in a conflict that every day looks more like a civil war. 

The head of the UN observers, Major General Robert Mood, said yesterday that a spike in bloodshed is derailing the mission. 

"Violence over the past 10 days has been intensifying willingly by the both parties, with losses on both sides and significant risks to our observers," he told reporters in Damascus. 

Mood also said there was a concern among the states that provide the observers that the risk is approaching an unacceptable level — suggesting the violence could prompt the observers to pull out of the country at some point. 

Western powers have pinned their hopes on the Annan plan, in part because there are no other options on the table. There is little support for military intervention, and several rounds of sanctions have failed to stop the bloodshed.

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before