Micro-bus in Damascus reportedly hit by shell; at least 10 dead
BEIRUT -- On what was supposed to be the last day of a holiday cease-fire in Syria, a government shell struck a micro-bus in Damascus on Monday, killing at least 10 people, many of them children, activists said.
Photos and videos reportedly take at the scene in the Al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhood showed children’s bloody bodies lined up on the ground and the injured being taken away by taxis or other buses. Government forces later raided the Palestine Hospital in the neighborhood and arrested some of the wounded, activists said.
The incident came on the final day of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that was marked by clashes and airstrikes rather than the hoped-for lull in violence. Reports of the attack could not be independently confirmed because the Syrian government restricts media access to the conflict zone.
Other opposition-held neighborhoods and suburbs also were constantly shelled on Monday, activists reported.
In the Damascus suburb of Jaramana, considered to be an area loyal to the government, state media reported that a car bomb killed at least six people and injured more than 50.
The cease-fire brokered by Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria, was meant to provide four days of respite from the fighting, with its daily death tolls of more than 100 people, many of them civilians. The truce also was to serve as a possible foundation for further diplomatic efforts.
Instead, the cease-fire was broken within hours of its start on Friday, with each side blaming the other.
Meanwhile, Brahimi was in Moscow on Monday meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Russia is one of Syria’s last remaining allies and along with China has frustrated action by the United Nations on Syria.
“What I did was just really make an appeal to all those who are fighting inside Syria, to give their people a respite for few days,” Brahimi said at a news conference following his meeting. “I am terribly sorry ... that this appeal has not been heard at the level we hoped it would.”
The cease-fire was not expected to succeed by most observers given the past failures of such efforts in the conflict. But despite the dim hopes for diplomatic success, Brahimi said they would continue to work to bring the level of violence down and put an end to the conflict. There are no plans to send U.N. peacekeepers to Syria, he said.
“The situation is bad and is getting worse,” he said.
Photo: A photo released by the Syrian Arab News Agency shows the site where a car bomb exploded Monday in Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus, killing at least six people. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency / SANA handout.