BEIRUT - Fighting erupted in a Damascus suburb and around an army base
in northern Syria on Friday, opposition sources said, as truce marking a
Muslim holiday crumbled almost before it had begun.
Three people were killed by tank fire and snipers in Harasta, a town near Damascus, activists said.
Syrian military had said it would hold fire on Friday morning following
an appeal by international mediator Lakhdar Brahimi for a pause in
fighting which has killed 32,000 people and which threatens to draw
regional powers into the conflict.
But violations by both sides swiftly marred the truce.
in a northern town near the Turkish border said a sniper had killed one
of their fighters early on Friday and a Reuters journalist there heard
the sound of four tank rounds.
"We don't believe the ceasefire
will work," rebel commander Basel Eissa told Reuters. "There's no Id for
us rebels on the front line. The only Id we can celebrate will be
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels were trying to storm
the Wadi al-Daif army base, which is less than 1 km (half a mile) from
the Damascus-Aleppo highway, and that troops had fired artillery at a
Citing opposition activists, the British-based
group also said the army had fired six rockets at the besieged Khalidiya
district of Homs, wounding two people and damaging houses.
Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces had announced conditional acceptance of a cease fire on Thursday night.
the occasion of the blessed Id al-Adha, the general command of the army
and armed forces announces a halt to military operations on the
territory of the Syrian Arab Republic, from Friday morning ... until
Monday," the army said.
But it warned it would respond to any rebel attacks, or moves to exploit the truce to reinforce or resupply insurgents.
commander from the rebel Free Syrian Army had said his fighters would
also honor the ceasefire but demanded Assad meet opposition demands for
the release of thousands of detainees.
Some Islamist fighters,
including the Nusra Front, dismissed the truce before it even came into
effect, but after a night of clashes in Aleppo, Damascus and the west of
the country, activists had reported an initial lull in hostilities.
exception was the southern town of Inkhil, where three people were
wounded as they tried to protest after special prayers in a mosque to
mark the start of the Id, according to Rami Abdulrahman, head of the
Several other demonstrations in the southern
province of Deraa, cradle of the protests which erupted against Assad in
March last year, were also broken up, Abdulrahman said.
himself, who has vowed to defeat what he says are Islamist fighters
backed by Syria's enemies abroad, was shown on state television
attending Id prayers at a Damascus mosque.
Fighting in Damascus
residents said on Thursday night troops stationed on a mountain
overlooking Damascus targeted Hajar al-Aswad, a poor district inhabited
by refugees from the Golan Heights. There were no immediate reports of
"Consecutive artillery volleys from Qasioun shook my
home," said an engineer who lives in al-Muhajereen district on a
foothill of the mountain, giving his name only as Omar.
fighting pits mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, from the
minority Alawite sect which is distantly related to Shi'ite Islam.
Brahimi has warned that the conflict could suck in Sunni and Shi'ite
powers across the Middle East.
Qassem Saadeddine, head of the
military council in Homs province and spokesman for the FSA joint
command, said on Thursday his fighters were committed to the truce, but
demanded the release of detainees by Friday morning.
spokesman for Ansar al-Islam, which includes several brigades fighting
in and around Damascus, said the Islamist group doubted Assad's forces
would observe the truce, though it might suspend operations if they did.
do not care about this truce. We are cautious. If the tanks are still
there and the checkpoints are still there then what is the truce?" he
Brahimi's predecessor, former UN chief Kofi Annan,
declared a ceasefire in Syria on April 12, but it soon became a dead
letter, along with the rest of his six-point peace plan.
Violence has intensified since then, with daily death tolls compiled by opposition monitoring groups often exceeding 200.
aid agencies have geared up to take advantage of any window of
opportunity provided by a ceasefire to go to areas hard to access due to
fighting, a UN official in Geneva said.
The UN refugee agency
UNHCR said it had prepared emergency kits for distribution for up to
13,000 families - an estimated 65,000 people - in Homs and the
northeastern city of Hassaka.