Syria’s rebel fighters yesterday set up a military council to unify their ranks and political opposition leaders called a meeting of all the dissident groups to forge common objectives as deadly violence swept the country.
Despite international envoy Kofi Annan travelling to Russia in a new peace push with one of Syria’s few remaining allies, the army resumed heavy shelling of rebel hubs and stormed a deserter stronghold, monitors and activists said.
At least 24 civilians were killed nationwide, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said, adding that 15 soldiers and two rebels also died in the fighting.
With the violence that monitors say has claimed more than 9,000 lives over the past year showing no signs of abating, the military and political opponents of President Bashar Al Assad piled the pressure on his regime.
The rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) said it had merged with a unit led by the most senior army deserter, General Mustafa al-Sheikh, to form a united military council aimed at closing ranks in the face of the regime’s unrelenting crackdown.