UN-brokered ceasefire fails in Syria as casualties mount in continued fighting


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The Independent Online

Government warplanes and artillery struck suburbs east of Damascus while rebels attacked regime positions elsewhere near the capital today as violence marred the third day of what was meant to be a four-day holiday ceasefire, activists said.

A UN-backed truce declared for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha has failed to take hold, with fighting reported from the start. Activists said more than 150 people were killed on Friday, the start of the holiday, and more than 120 people on the second day, similar to previous daily casualty tolls.

The ceasefire was seen as unlikely to succeed from the outset.

The international mediator in Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, failed to get firm commitments from all combatants. The truce marked the first attempt in six months to reduce the bloodshed in Syria, where activists say more than 35,000 people have been killed in 19 months.

In fighting today, warplanes struck the eastern Damascus suburbs of Arbeen, Harasta and Zamalka to try to drive out rebels, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which compiles information from activists in Syria.

The Observatory also reported shelling attacks in these areas.

Local activists and another opposition group, the Local Co-ordination Committees, said warplanes struck Arbeen and Harasta. The LCC said eight people were killed yesterday in Damascus and its suburbs.