Airstrikes, car bombs in Syria leave brief cease-fire in tatters
Estimates say at least 110 people were killed on Sunday in fighting between rebels and regime forces, with both sides accusing the other of having broken the UN-brokered cease-fire.
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Middle East Editor
Ariel Zirulnick is the Monitor's Middle East editor, overseeing regional coverage both for CSMonitor.com and the weekly magazine. She is also a contributor to the international desk's terrorism and security blog.
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Syrian opposition activists report that jets fired on several spots throughout the country yesterday, signaling decisively the demise of a United Nations-brokered cease-fire, which was broken by skirmishes almost as soon as it began last week.
Both sides have repeatedly broken the agreement since it began, with the government placing the blame on "terrorists" and the rebels saying they couldn't trust President Bashar al-Assad to uphold the cease-fire while his troops continued to stage strikes throughout the country. Reuters writes:
Syrian authorities blame "terrorists" for breaking the truce and the opposition says a ceasefire is impossible while Assad moves tanks and uses artillery and jets against populated areas.
A statement by the Syrian military said "blatant" rebel violations proved they want to "fragment and destroy Syria".
"These terrorist groups must be confronted, their remnants chased and an iron fist used to exterminate them and save the homeland from their evil," the statement said.
Reuters adds that in Damascus, residents reported bombings in several suburbs, as well as two car bombs. There were also air strikes in the provinces of Deir al-Zour, Idlib, and Aleppo, the latter two of which are mostly under rebel control on the ground. Activists also reported fighting in the city of Aleppo.
The BBC reports that according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition activist group, at least 110 people were killed yesterday alone, the third day of the cease-fire – 39 civilians, 34 rebel fighters, and 35 government security forces.
The Telegraph reports that death estimates for the second day of the cease-fire were somewhere between 91 and 114 – far lower than at the height of fighting, but still not a good sign for the chances of an extension of the break in fighting.
Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special envoy to Syria who brokered the agreement, is expected to reopen talks at the UN Security Council, which backed the cease-fire. However, it is unclear what options he is left with after both the government and the rebels made it clear there would be no total compliance with this agreement.