Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large
A Syrian man on the rubble of a destroyed building on the outskirts of Damascus.
A  Syrian man on the rubble of a destroyed building on the outskirts of  Damascus.

Syrian rebels say truce is over as two-day death toll hits 200

Fighting rages across Syria as air raids strikr near Damascus and in the north and the death toll rose to nearly 200 in two days since the ceasefire was due to take effect.

DAMASCUS // Rebel fighters declared the Eid truce over yesterday as fighting raged across Syria, air raids struck near Damascus and in the north and the death toll rose to nearly 200 in two days since the ceasefire was due to take effect.

The Syrian regime blamed rebels for breaking the truce but opposition fighters said they were defending civilans from army attacks.

"This initiative was dead before it started," said Abdel Jabbar Al Okaidi, head of the Free Syrian Army military council in Aleppo.

"I was on several fronts yesterday and the army did not stop shelling. Our mission is to defend the people, it is not us who are attacking."

The international community should stop putting faith in the regime of Bashar Al Assad, Mr Okaidi said. "The Syrian people have become guinea pigs. Every time there is an envoy who tries an initiative, while we know the regime will not respect it." Rami Abdel Rahman, director of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said: "The truce is dead. We can no longer talk of a truce."

Syrian warplanes bombed a building in the Damascus suburb of Arbeen, killing at least eight people in the first air raid since the ceasefire proposed by the United Nations-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was supposed to take effect on Friday.

The attack followed a day of car bombs and clashes that left 146 dead, according to activist tallies.

The Syrian army accused rebels of committing increasing violations of the truce and vowed to fight back. "For the second day, terrorist groups continued to flagrantly violate the ceasefire announced and respected by the army command," the military said. "The army will continue to track this increase of violations … and fight back against these criminal acts."

Friday's death toll included 11 in a car bomb in a residential area of Damascus, on par with the daily death tolls preceding the ceasefire.

Another air strike hit near the Wadi Deif military base in the northwestern province of Idlib, where rebel forces have been battling for control.

The Eid holiday had started on Friday with a slowdown in the fighting - and state television footage of Mr Al Assad smiling and chatting with worshippers at a Damascus mosque - but quickly degenerated.

The Observatory, a key monitor of the conflict, said 146 people were killed in bombings and fighting on Friday: 53 civilians, 50 rebels and 43 members of Mr Al Assad's forces.

Yesterday, violence killed at least another 48 people, the Observatory said, amid clashes and attacks in Damascus province, Aleppo, Idlib, Daraa in the south and the eastern city of Deir Ezzor.

Among the dead were five killed in a car-bomb attack in Deir Ezzor. State television blamed the attack on "terrorists" and said the bomb had gone off in front of a church, causing significant damage.

According to the Observatory, more than 35,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began as an anti-regime uprising but is now a civil war pitting mainly Sunni rebels against Al Assad's regime dominated by his minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

The Observatory relies on a countrywide network of activists, lawyers and medical staff in civilian and military hospitals. It says its tolls take into account civilian, military, and rebel casualties.

Al Assad's forces and the FSA had both agreed to a call by Mr Brahimi to lay down their arms for the Eid holiday, but both also reserved the right to respond to attacks.

The rapid unravelling of the effort to achieve even a temporary peace is the latest setback to attempts to end Syria's civil war through diplomacy. Mr Brahimi had hoped the truce might lead to a more permanent ceasefire during which he could push for a political solution and bring aid to stricken areas of the country.

Observers also raised concerns yesterday of a new front opening in the conflict after reports of clashes between rebels and Kurdish militia on Friday that left 30 dead.

The fighting between rebels and the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the Syrian branch of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), took place in the majority Kurdish neighbourhood of Ashrafiyeh in Aleppo, the Observatory said.

* The Associated Press with additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

Back to the top

More articles


Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 The Doha-based Youssef Al Qaradawi speaks to the crowd as he leads Friday prayers in Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt in February, 2011. The outspoken pro-Muslim Brotherhood imam has been critical of the UAE’s policies toward Islamist groups, adding to friction between Qatar and other GCC states. Khalil Hamra / AP Photo

Brotherhood imam skips Doha sermon, but more needed for GCC to reconcile

That Youssef Al Qaradawi did not speak raises hopes that the spat involving Qatar and the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain might be slowly moving towards a resolution.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 An Afghan election commission worker carries a ballot box at a vote counting centre in Jalalabad on April 6. A roadside bomb hit a truck carrying full ballot boxes in northern Afghanistan, killing three people a day after the country voted for a successor to President Hamid Karzai. Eight boxes of votes were destroyed in the blast, which came as the three leading candidates voiced concerns about possible fraud. Noorullah Shirzada / AFP Photo

Two pressing questions for Afghanistan’s future president

Once in office, the next Afghan president must move fast to address important questions that will decide the immediate future of the country.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Supporters of Turkey's ruling AKP cheer as they follow the election's results in front of the party's headquarters in Ankara on March 30. Adem Altan/ AFP Photo

Erdogan critic fears retaliation if he returns to Turkey

Emre Uslu is a staunch critic of Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Now, with a mass crackdown on opposition expected, he is unsure when he can return home.

Events

To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National