New Shelling Overshadows Syria Truce Deadline
DAMASCUS: Syrian forces shelled protest hubs and deployed reinforcements on Tuesday, in apparent breach of a UN-backed peace plan, activists and monitors said, as Russia urged its ally to act more decisively to implement the truce.
But Foreign Minister Walid Muallim said in Moscow that Damascus had started to carry out the plan tabled by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan by pulling some troops out of certain provinces.
A spokesman for Annan, who was visiting Syrian refugee camps in Turkey, said the former UN chief would send a letter to the Security Council later Tuesday, the day his peace accord was scheduled to begin taking effect.
On the ground, forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shelled the villages of Marea and Hawr al-Nahr in northern Aleppo province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Mortar shells also struck old quarters of the flashpoint city of Homs, it said, adding unidentified gunmen killed six soldiers in northeastern Hassakeh province.
Under the peace plan it agreed with Annan, the Syrian government is supposed to draw back its troops and armour from population centres on Tuesday ahead of a ceasefire on Thursday.
Activists said that instead of withdrawing, the Assad government was sending even more reinforcements into at least one other rebel stronghold, the besieged city of Rastan in central Homs province.