to videos posted online, fireballs of orange flame and black rubbleexploded in the air as waves of shells pounded residentialbuildings in Homs on Monday. The sounds of shells whooshed throughthe sky and there was occasional sporadic machine gun fire. The videos could not be independently verified. The Observatory and another activist coalition, the LocalCoordination Committees, also reported government shelling in thecentral provinces of Hama and Homs, where Rastan is located, aswell as the southern region of Daraa, the northern province ofAleppo, and suburbs of the capital Damascus and Deir el-Zour in theeast. |
The Observatory also said a bomb targeted a security force in thenorthern city of Idlib, killing seven soldiers and a civilian.There was no immediate confirmation from state media. In Damascus, the state-run news agency SANA said authorities foiledan attempt to blow up a car rigged with 700 kilograms (1,500pounds) of explosives in the Damascus suburb of Chebaa. Expertsdismantled it Monday, SANA said. Syrian activists say 13,000 people have been killed in violencesince the uprising began in March 2011. The bloodshed has led to broad condemnation of the regime from theinternational community, although Russia, Iran and China have stoodby President Bashar Assad.
Russia and China have vetoed twoSecurity Council resolutions that threatened sanctions againstSyria. Russia has refused to support any move that could lead to foreignintervention in Syria, Moscow's last significant ally in the MiddleEast. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is scheduled to visitSyria's ally Iran on Wednesday. In Israel, the deputy military chief warned that Syria's largechemical weapons stocks could be trained on the Jewish state.According to Maj.
Gen. Yair Naveh, Syria has the largest arsenal ofchemical weapons in the world. If the Syrians had the chance, hesaid, they would "treat us the same way they treat their ownpeople." Syria has not acknowledged possessing chemical weapons, so theexact size is not known. Among other things, Israel is worried thatsuch weapons could fall into the hands of anti-Israel militantsshould the regime crumble.
Israel has been watching the carnage in neighboring Syria withincreasing concern. The two countries have fought major wars andmultiple attempts to reach a peace deal have failed. Syria hasstrong ties to Iran, Israel's most dangerous enemy, and toPalestinian and Lebanese militants who have fought wars againstIsrael. On the other hand, the Israel-Syria border has been mostly quietfor decades under the regimes of Assad and his father.
In Germany, the country's defense minister sharply rejected theidea of military intervention in Syria, referring to those who askfor it as "coffeehouse intellectuals." Thomas de Maiziere told Monday's edition of German daily taz: "Thecontinued waffling by people who bear none of the responsibilitycreates expectations in regions like Syria, thereby causingterrible disappointment." British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday that he couldnot rule out military intervention in Syria, saying the situationthere is beginning to resemble the violence that gripped Bosnia inthe 1990s.
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