Syrians Allege Reprisals After UN Visits: Damascus Suburbs Attacked
Residents of opposition areas in Syria say a UN peace mission is failing to protect them as reports grow that regime forces have launched lethal attacks in communities after monitors have left.
In a sign of what many see as the now urgent need to expand the tiny UN team, people in centres of protest have said they sometimes do not have the chance to brief monitors properly and run the risk of reprisals once they have gone.
Kofi Annan, special international envoy to Syria, this week urged the swift deployment of an agreed 300-strong monitor force to police the “bleak” security situation in Syria, where a UN-backed ceasefire has been repeatedly breached.
Amid reports of continuing violence on Wednesday, Alain Juppé, French foreign minister, also called for the deployment to be speeded up. “This cannot continue indefinitely. We want to see observers in sufficient numbers, at least 300 … deployed as quickly as possible,” Mr Juppé said in Paris.
Ahmad Fawzi, a UN spokesman, said the team was deploying as fast as it could but it was a huge operation that would take weeks to get to full strength.
In the restive Damascus suburb of Douma, a resident who asked to be known only as Ammar vented his frustration at the inability of the UN to stop what he said was a regime attack with heavy weapons and snipers after two visits by monitors in two days.
“UN observers’ mission is useless!” he said via Skype on Tuesday night, against a background of loud booms. “We are 30 minutes from their hotels: they can know everything.”
The 15-strong team of monitors has been mobbed in protest centres during its tours of the country in the two weeks since the start of a truce brokered by Mr Annan after months of wrangling in the UN Security Council.