Opposition Activists: Syrian Troops, Military Defectors Clash Near Turkey
Syrian troops clashed with defecting soldiers Friday near the border with Turkey, opposition activists said, violating a cease-fire that went into effect a day earlier.
The clashes occurred in the Kherbet Joz village, which borders Turkey.
Both sides have reported cases of scattered violence since the cease-fire was implemented at dawn Thursday, but the border clashes are the first major violation, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The world turned a skeptical eye toward Syria on Thursday after the truce cast relative calm over cities and towns previously pounded by government forces.
“Syria is apparently experiencing a rare moment of calm on the ground,” Kofi Annan, the special international envoy who brokered the peace plan, said at the time. “This is bringing much-needed relief and hope to the Syrian people who have suffered so much for so long in this brutal conflict. This must now be sustained.”
The cease-fire is part of a six-point Annan plan that includes the release of detainees, allowing access for humanitarian aid and international media, and respecting the rights of peaceful demonstrators.
The plan also calls for the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from residential areas.
However, Syria is not in full compliance with the peace plan, and troops and heavy weapons remain in population centers despite an agreement to withdraw, said Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
Damascus needs to abide by all six points of Annan’s peace plan, said Adib al Shishakly, a member of the Syrian National Council, an umbrella group of exiles.
“They diluted the whole initiative into one thing: into the cease-fire only,” al Shishakly said. “What happened to the other five?”