Syrian activists are lamenting that the presence of a small team of United Nations monitors has not helped stop the shelling and shooting in the embattled country, saying that government forces were attacking before the observers showed up, after they left -- and even in front of them.
“Every time the U.N. observers go away, the residents flee. My relatives are not in the Arbaeen district anymore. They fled," Mousab Hamadi, an activist based outside Hama, said in an interview via Skype. Protesters in Arbaeen, a suburb of Damascus, were reportedly attacked last week while U.N. observers were there.
The official Syrian Arab News Agency reported Wednesday that observers were touring Duma and Homs, a central city that had long served as a rebel stronghold. Thirteen observers are reportedly on the ground, with 300 approved by the U.N. Security Council to come eventually.
In the video above, purportedly taken in the Tafas village in Dara, gunfire can be heard. Opposition activists claimed the regime opened fire to stop people from meeting with observers in Dara on Wednesday. A 55-year-old man was killed by "indiscriminate shooting" while the U.N. team was there, an activist network reported.
"They are not achieving anything, they're really failures," said another activist reached by Skype in the town of Dael in Dara. "The Syrian people is dying in front of the observers. Every city that the observers visit gets a massacre."
Annan reportedly told the Security Council on Tuesday that Syria was still in an unacceptable state. His spokesman said they had credible reports that Syrians "who approach the observers may be approached by security forces or Syrian army and harassed or arrested or even worse, perhaps killed."
While opposition activists have blamed the regime for continued violence, saying that at least 40 people were killed Wednesday, state media reported that armed terrorists had continued attacks, blaming the rebels for the Tuesday shooting of a Red Crescent volunteer traveling in a marked vehicle. Funeral processions were held for seven soldiers and policemen killed by terrorists, the state news agency reported.
The following videos, uploaded to YouTube and spread by opposition activists, provide more glimpses of what is reported to be happening in Syria. The Times could not confirm the events shown.
The video below purports to show the moment a rocket crashed into a building in Duma, a suburb of Damascus, on Wednesday. "Duma is being shelled!" one person shouts. The Local Coordination Committees activist network said the area came under "violent shelling" and electricity was out:
This next video, also from Duma, is said to show the arrival of observers in white U.N. vehicles on Wednesday. Someone can be heard saying the observers arrived after the shelling:
-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles