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Syrian Army Resumes Shelling Despite Ceasefire

Catherine Green |
April 17, 2012 | 11:04 a.m. PDT

Executive Producer

Syrian Army tank, 2005. (Wikimedia Commons)
Syrian Army tank, 2005. (Wikimedia Commons)
The regime in Syria continued, and in fact expanded, its shelling operations Monday despite the presence of United Nations observers and an agreed-upon ceasefire in effect.

According to the Associated Press, 26 people were killed Monday after the Syrian Army ramped up its attacks following a brief lull. The ceasefire was part of a plan to improve relations between President Bashar Assad and the opposition voice of his people.

U.N. numbers report a death toll of 9,000 people since the uprising began 13 months ago.

From the AP:

The central city of Homs has been under continuous assault for about a month, with only a brief lull on the first day of the cease-fire. In a six-minute amateur video posted Tuesday, shells are heard falling on Homs at intervals of one every few seconds. Gray or black smoke rises from several locations at once, at times filling the entire screen.

Annan, joint emissary for the U.N. and the Arab League, was in Qatar briefing the Arab League on Syria. His plan has the backing of Assad's allies, including Russia, and even with setbacks it is seen as the only way forward because Western military intervention is unlikely at this point.

Still, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said international sanctions are starting to work and have wiped out half of Syria's foreign currency reserves. Juppe was speaking to representatives of 57 countries gathered in Paris to coordinate economic measures against Assad. Syrian foreign reserves were believed to be around $17 billion at the start of the uprising in March 2011.

In Moscow, leaders of two Syrian opposition groups said Tuesday, a day after meeting Russia's deputy foreign minister, that they have sensed a shift in Russia's stance and hope Moscow will crank up pressure on Assad. Russia twice shielded Assad from U.N. Security Council condemnation, but has become more critical of the regime.

"Russia has all the necessary levers to apply pressure on Assad's government and help Annan's mission," said Haytham Manna, leader in exile of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria.

U.N. officials continue to struggle with handling oppression and violence in Syria. More observers are expected to join the six who arrived in Damascus over the weekend. It remains unclear how much access they will truly have to Assad's regime.


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