Gunfire continues in Syria despite scheduled cease-fire [video]
This story has been updated. See the note below.
BEIRUT -- Only hours into the fragile cease-fire between the Syrian government and rebel fighters, the truce’s hold was tested Thursday as activists reported that nine people were killed across the country and protesters in several cities were fired upon by troops.
Three people were reported killed in Homs, two in Idlib, two in the Damascus suburbs and one each in the suburbs of Aleppo and Hama, according to the Syrian Revolution General Commission.
State-run media reported one soldier was killed and 24 others wounded when a roadside bomb went off in Aleppo in the morning.
In keeping with a United Nations-backed peace plan negotiated by special envoy Kofi Annan, Syrian President Bashar Assad was to have withdrawn his troops and heavy weapons from cities and towns by Tuesday. In a letter sent to Annan on Wednesday, the regime promised to abide by a 6 a.m. cease-fire deadline Thursday, with the caveat it would respond to “armed terrorist groups.”
The Syrian regime has restricted access of outside media, making it difficult to verify the statements and images released by either side.
[Updated 8:20 a.m. April 12: Despite reports of scattered violence, Annan said in a statement that the situation in Syria was "relatively quiet" and that the cease-fire appeared to be taking hold.
"This is bringing much-needed relief and hope to the Syrian people who have suffered so much for so long in this brutal conflict," he said. "This must now be sustained."
He added that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon would be asking the Security Council for permission to soon deploy an observer mission from the world body.]
Online videos said to have been filmed Thursday show renewed shelling in Homs and tanks, troops and snipers in the streets in various areas across the country. This clip below, said to have been filmed in Homs' Old City, purportedly shows the fall of a shell on the neighborhood.
A large explosion is heard, followed by a cloud of black thick smoke billowing to the sky from what looks like a residential neighborhood. "The shelling on the city of Homs still continues after Mr. Annan's deadline," the cameraman says.
Shelling was also reported in the Homs' Qarabees neighborhood, where attacks have been reported in recent days. The tank is sitting in a street surrounded by smoke in what looks like an area that has come under heavy shelling.
Outside of Hama, at the Modaiq Citadel, a tank and what appears to be groups of troops are positioned on a hill. Activists reported heavy machine gun from a checkpoint in the area to prevent families from demonstrating.
Even in towns where there was no shooting or shelling Thursday, from Maarat Numan in Idlib to Damascus to Dara, activists reported troops had yet to withdraw.
An activist in the Damascus neighborhood of Mezze who requested to be identified simply as Moaz for security's sake said much of the city was calm. "But no one has withdrawn; they are all still here," he said.
In the city of Idlib, security force officers, who were still dispersed throughout the city at checkpoints and in machine-gun mounted pickup trucks, reportedly still were shooting during the morning.
-- Alexandra Sandels