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Syria violence continues despite cease-fire

April 18, 2012 |  7:44 am

BEIRUT -- Shelling and shootings continued in Syria on Wednesday despite the presence of a small group of United Nations cease-fire monitors, government opponents said.

At least 17 people were reported killed across the country, and as the violence drags on, more Syrians are expressing doubt about the possible success of a peace plan proposed by U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan, even as U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was expected to ask for a full deployment of monitors.

An activist reached in Homs said government tanks had entered one neighborhood Wednesday morning and that shelling and raids were underway.

"Five tanks entered Qusair in the morning in addition to a number of buses carrying security," he said. "The regime troops in the town are still violating the truce by renewing the shelling and the raids.... The truce lasted for one day, the gunfire stopped for one day. Then it returned to what it was like before -- shelling, raids, and arrests. There is no change and the withdrawal was a lie from the army."

The activist said the promise of a cease-fire was just a ploy by the Syrian government "to gain more time." The future is uncertain, he said, "maybe death, maybe victory." 

On the outskirts of Hama, activist Mousab Alhamadee said raids and arrests were underway and that  helicopters were in the sky in the eastern part of the city.

"Yes, [the tanks] are still where they are. They are just trying to dig in the ground and hide them," he said. He expressed skepticism about the cease-fire.

"We hope so but unfortunately what the regime does is escalating things actually," he said, adding that it was "a trick" by the government to curb mounting international pressure.

"We hope that the international community is serious. The world should have more pressure on Assad to pull out his forces and to step down," he said.


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-- Alexandra Sandels