Heavy Fighting Kills 34 in Syria, UN Monitors Blocked

Posted by on Jun 13, 2012 | Comments Off on Heavy Fighting Kills 34 in Syria, UN Monitors Blocked

 

She also said Russia’s claims that its arms shipments to Syria are unrelated to the conflict are “patently untrue.” She said the U.S. has confronted Russia about stopping its continued arms transfers to the country.

Also Tuesday, news agencies quoted United Nations peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous as saying he believes Syria is now in a full-scale civil war, with a “massive increase in the level of violence.”

But U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky backed away from that characterization, telling reporters later “it is not for the U.N. to designate in that way.” Nesirky, however, did confirm “a qualitative shift and intensification” of the violence in Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday the U.S. is concerned about reports Russia is sending attack helicopters to Syria.

Escalation in Al-Haffeh:

LCC spokeswoman Rafif Jouejati said rebel fighters in al-Haffeh have been attempting to smuggle trapped civilians over the nearby Turkish border.

Clashes began last week when security forces initiated their attempt to capture the strategic Sunni Muslim town, located close to the port city of Latakia and the Turkish border – and used by rebels as an active smuggling route for people and supplies.

Jouejati said that helicopter shelling and other aerial attacks  by government forces have been occurring for months across Syria.

Child victims:

The U.S.-based group Human Rights Watch said the U.N. Security Council should impose an arms embargo and other targeted sanctions on the Syrian leadership in response to the abuses described in the report. It said Syrian children are paying a “horrendous price” in the conflict.

On Monday, the United Nations accused Syrian security forces and pro-government “shabiha” militias of committing serious rights violations against children, including using them as human shields.

The report also said children have been “victims of killing and maiming, arbitrary arrest, detention, torture and ill-treatment, including sexual violence.”

Analyst Hilal Khashan at the American University of Beirut said it appears the Syrian government is losing control of large parts of the country.

“The insurgency has spread throughout the country and the regime is now frantic,” he said. “They are doing all they can do in order to redress the situation and the only way they know how to react is brutally and they don’t mind bringing the country to civil war.”

Syrian state TV said on Tuesday that government forces near the port city of Latakia were “chasing bands of terrorists” who were “destroying government buildings and terrorizing local residents.” The report also said that “armed terrorists” stopped two buses carrying civilians near the Lebanese border.

Contact group:

No venue, date or list of participants for the meeting has been set.

Despite Secretary Clinton’s outspoken comments on Russia Tuesday, Jeff Mankoff, an adjunct fellow for CSIS’s Russia and Eurasia Program, said the U.S. still considers Russia as “the key” to any negotiated settlement in Syria.

A spokesman for international envoy Kofi Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, said Tuesday that an international “contact group” will meet soon to discuss how to pressure Syria’s government and opposition groups to implement the U.N.-Arab League envoy’s tattered peace plan.

“What is lacking is implementation and that is why we count on these member states with influence on the parties during this meeting and as a result of this meeting to put irrevocable pressure on the parties to implement the plan and stop the killing and begin a political transition,” he said.

“Russia is the only outside power that really has the leverage to the Assad government to lean on them and precipitate some kind of negotiated transfer of power–something along the lines of what you had in Yemen,” Mankoff said.

The contact group meeting has been in doubt because of Western opposition to Syrian ally Iran’s involvement. The Iranian foreign ministry Tuesday welcomed a Russian proposal for Iran to be included despite strong reservations from the United States, France and Britain.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said he continues to hope for a peaceful solution.

“The difference between civil war or near civil war is at times like this so slight, that the distinction almost loses meaning,” he said. “But the fact is, hits by the [pro-government] Alawite militias on innocent civilians in Sunni villages, have now prompted tit-for-tat hits against Alawite civilians in other parts of the country. So you have got the whole escalating process of sectarian on sectarian violence which is really the essence of a civil war.”

Advertisement

Subscription

You can subscribe by e-mail to receive news updates and breaking stories.

————————Important———————–

Enter Analytics/Stat Tracking Code Here