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Thursday, April 26, 2012
Syria: Regime executes activists who met UN monitors

Syria: Regime executes activists who met UN monitors

By Layal Abu Rahal

London/ Beirut-Asharq Al-Awsat - Syrian armed forces on Monday “summarily
executed” nine political activists who had met with UN monitors during their
visit of Hama on Sunday, whilst the city was also shelled following the UN
observer mission’s visit, resulting in the deaths of 45, according to a
human rights organization.

The Syrian League for Human Rights reported that Hama had been subject to
wide-scale bombardment on Monday after UN monitors had visited the city and
met with the local population who briefed them on the their suffering and
the results of the military and security operations that have been enacted
against them. The Damascus-based Human Rights organization claimed that 45
people were killed in the shelling, whilst 150 were injured, adding that the
Syrian military and security forces – accompanied by pro-regime Shabiha
militia – then stormed the city, detaining a number of activist. The regime
forces then “summarily executed the activists who had met with the
international observers.” For its part, the London-based Syrian Observatory
for Human Rights reported that at least 31 citizens were killed by Syrian
regime forces utilizing light and heavy arms.

In the latest violence to undermine the shaky 13-day truce, the Syrian
Observatory for Human Rights claimed that Syrian security forces on
Wednesday shot dead four civilians on a bus in the northern province of
Idlib, whilst a Douma local informed Reuters news agency that al-Assad
regime forces had bombarded the city throughout the night.

The Syrian League for Human Rights condemned, in the strongest possible
terms, the terrible “massacre” carried out by al-Assad regime forces against
political activists in Hama, viewing this as a “crime against humanity.” The
Syrian-based Human Rights organization also queried the role being played by
UN monitors in failing to protect eyewitnesses who were subject to “revenge
and intimidation” by the Syrian security forces.

This comes at the end of the second week of the UN observer mission in
Syria, whose objective is to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire
throughout the country. According to the Syrian Local Coordination
Committees [LCC], at least 685 Syrians have been killed since the start of
the ceasefire, whilst 200 Syrians were killed in 48 hours between the
beginning of the implementation of Kofi Annan’s initiative, and the
ceasefire deadline on 12 April. The al-Assad regime forces have reportedly
continued to target Syrian protesters across the country, with some reports
indicating that they have fired upon civilians in cities where UN monitors
are present.

The LCC also claimed that a unit of Syrian security forces entered Damascus
neighbourhoods on Tuesday after UN monitors had departed from the area,
carrying out “savage” raids and arrests against those who met with the
international observers. The LCC also claimed that Syrian soldiers in Idlib
are masquerading as police officers, substituting their official identity
cards and uniforms, in anticipation of the UN observers’ forthcoming visit.

The Syrian opposition has expressed its regret that the Syrian regime is
continuing its military operations and failing to abide by the ceasefire in
accordance with the Annan initiative.

Official LCC spokesman, Khalil al-Haj Saleh, told Asharq Al-Awsat that
al-Assad regime forces are violating the Annan initiative on a daily basis,
not least by continuing to kill shed Syrian blood.

Saleh stressed that “we understand the essence of the regime's thinking. It
is not concerned about any of these initiatives, and we are not exaggerating
when we say that granting an opportunity for a political solution is
tantamount to granting the regime more time to continue to kill civilians.”

He added “the regime going along with this political solution means that it
acknowledges the presence of an opposition and popular revolution in Syria."

Saleh described the Syrian regime as a "nihilist regime, from a moral and
political standpoint” adding “we have no doubt that it will continue to kill
civilians and harass activists, whatever happens.” He also told Asharq
Al-Awsat that “the regime’s current focus is to discover the UN observers’
operations mechanism, in order to uncover a way to keep a tight grip on
Syria’s rebelling cities, whilst at the same time appear to be cooperation
with the observers.” The LCC spokesman also called on the monitors to ensure
that it is not taken in by the al-Assad regime’s ploys, stressing that “the
monitors operational mechanism, independence, and neutrality are more
important than their numbers."

Saleh added “I believe the major fault in the operations of the Arab League
observer delegation was the fact that all their means of moving around and
visiting different areas was dependent on the regime itself, which
controlled their movements and operation. Therefore the UN observers face
the major challenge of monitoring what is happening on the ground, without
any influence or pressure."

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