Syrians in Lebanon take out
a rally against Assad
Officials warn of Syrian civil war, 7 killed
Beirut, May 8, 2012
Security forces killed at least seven people in fighting across Syria on Tuesday, activists said, in a 14-month-old revolt that the Red Cross and Arab League warned was becoming a civil war.
Across Syria, clashes between state forces and rebels who have joined the uprising against President Bashar Al-Assad raged overnight and flared again on Tuesday afternoon, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Despite a shaky truce, the carnage in Syria has not stopped even as the government held a parliamentary poll a day earlier.
Damascus promoted it as a milestone on its path to reform, but the opposition slammed the election as a sham and boycotted the vote.
As election officials counted votes on Tuesday, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said fighting had been so intense in some parts of Syria that at times the conflict in those places qualified as a localised civil war.
Jakob Kellenberger said he was very worried about conditions in Syria, where United Nations observers are being deployed to monitor a ceasefire agreement that has been repeatedly violated by state forces and by rebels.
'I really hope that the UN observers will deploy rapidly,' he told reporters in Geneva, indicating concern for the fate of UN. envoy Kofi Annan's six-point peace plan for Syria. 'I still hope it will not fail.'
Arab League chief Nabil Elaraby expressed similar sentiments. 'Escalating military action in Syria will end up leading to a civil war in Syria, which no one wants to see,' he told reporters during in a trip to Beijing.
Beyond the ceasefire and monitoring mission, Annan's plan also calls for free access for journalists and humanitarian aid in the country. So far, 50 of some 300 monitors have arrived with the whole team expected to be assembled by the end of May.
On Tuesday, the British-based Observatory said security forces were using rockets and heavy machinegun fire on the village of Al-Hassan in the rebellious central Homs province, as they sought to wrest control from rebels in the area.
Similar bombardment in northern Idlib province that began after midnight killed at least three people, it said.
The United Nations says more than 9,000 people have been killed by state forces trying to crush the revolt against four decades of rule by Assad and his father, Hafez Al-Assad. - Reuters