Syrian forces bombarded Homs on Saturday, a day after twin bombings killed 28
people in Aleppo in the worst bloodshed yet in Syria’s second city.
Damascus, gunmen shot dead a senior military doctor, in what authorities
described as the highest-level assassination in the capital in nearly one year of
anti-government unrest. Authorities blamed “an armed terrorist group” for
killing Brigadier- General Issa al-Khouli, whom they described as a doctor and
On the diplomatic front, President Bashar Assad’s ally
Russia said it would not support an Arab peace plan circulating at the United
Nations. A week ago, Russia and China vetoed a draft UN Security Council
resolution sponsored by Western and Arab states that backed an Arab League call
for Assad to step down.
Irwin Cotler, a Canadian member of parliament who
has advocated tougher measures against the Assad regime, said that in dealing
with Syria, the circumstances leading to intervention in Kosovo can be
“There is the Kosovo precedent, when at the time Russia was
also vetoing UN Security Council resolutions, even though there was a
preponderant majority in favor of intervention.
There was a ‘principled
coalition of the willing’ that did intervene and saved thousands of lives,” he
Cotler said the overwhelming Security Council support for a
resolution condemning Assad represents a solid diplomatic basis for greater
intervention in Syria.
“Thirteen Security Council members voted in favor
of the resolution – not only the US and Western countries, but the Arab League
and Turkey,” Cotler, Canada’s former justice minister and attorney general, told
The Jerusalem Post from Ottawa.
“What was done in Libya seems, in moral
and legal terms, warranted now in Syria. I’m not saying there should be the same
kind of NATOArab League bombing, but there could at least be a no-fly zone or
Syrian activists said seven people were killed in the
latest attacks in a week-long government siege of Homs, which has been at the
heart of the uprising which broke out 11 months ago.
On Friday, twin
bombings targeting security bases killed at least 28 people in Aleppo and rebel
fighters battled troops in a Damascus suburb after dark.
The bombings in
Syria’s second city were the worst attack to hit the country’s commercial hub
during the anti- Assad revolt. Mangled bodies and severed limbs lay on the
pavement outside the military and security-service buildings that were targeted
– as shown in live footage on Syrian television, which has consistently
portrayed the revolt against Assad as the work of foreign-backed
No one claimed responsibility for the Aleppo bombings, but
they took place as Assad’s forces grow more ferocious in operations to crush the
uprising. Some opposition figures accused the government of manipulating events
to discredit them.
“I condemn in the strongest terms these acts
perpetrated by the Syrian regime against its own civilians,” EU Foreign Policy
chief Catherine Ashton said. Assad has ignored repeated international appeals,
the latest from the EU, to halt his crackdown.
With Syria in worsening
turmoil, Saudi Arabia has circulated a new draft for the General Assembly
similar to the earlier one. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov
said on Saturday Moscow could not support a move at the UN General Assembly
resting on “the same unbalanced draft resolution text.”
dispute brings no relief to Homs, where the government offensive on mostly Sunni
Muslim rebel-held areas has killed at least 300 people in the past week,
Food and medical supplies are running low in blockaded
areas and many people are trapped in their houses.
Security forces have
also made house-to-house raids in Homs in the last two days. The bodies of three
people shot by snipers were pulled from the streets on Saturday, activists
YouTube footage from Friday showed two tanks said to be on the edge
of Bab Amro, one firing its main gun across a highway.
indiscriminate shelling is killing mostly civilians,” said Fawaz Tello of the
opposition Syrian National Council, arguing that Assad wanted to avoid pushing
his troops into street fighting and was banking on the bombardment to force
rebel fighters to withdraw.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said
10 soldiers were killed in an ambush by army defectors using roadside bombs and
hand grenades on Friday in the rebellious Idlib region.
Observatory also reported three people killed in bombardments of the opposition
stronghold of Zabadani.
In Douma, south of Damascus, an officer and eight
soldiers defected along with a tank after clashes between army deserters and
security forces, it said.
The UN assembly is due to discuss Syria on
Monday and vote later in the week on the draft resolution, which “fully
supports” an Arab League plan floated last month.
The Arab League will
meet in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the idea of a joint Arab-UN monitoring
mission for Syria.
Syrian authorities told Libya and Tunisia to close
their embassies in Damascus within 72 hours, a foreign ministry spokesman said
Saturday, after the two North African countries announced similar measures
against the Assad government.
Highlighting the danger of the conflict
spilling over borders, supporters and opponents of Assad fought in the streets
of Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Saturday, a security source said. Two
people were killed and eight wounded, some of them soldiers who had been
deployed to halt the fighting.Reuters contributed to this repo