More killings reported as Syrian forces fire at demos in Damascus neighborhood

Five people have been killed by the gunfire of Syrian forces on Wednesday and as many as 15 Syrian regime troops, including a high-ranking officer, were killed in an ambush in the city of Aleppo, activists at the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Demonstrators rallied in Idlib and called for international protection. The placard reads: No need to observe our bleeding..we want who can stop it.

Syrian government forces shot at overnight demonstrations in al-Tadamun neighborhood in Damascus, for the second successive day, Al Arabiya reported on Wednesday.

As many as 45 people were killed by the forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad across the country on Tuesday, Al Arabiya said citing activists at the Syrian Local Coordination Committees (LCC).

Heavy gunfire was reported in Areeha and Idlib, a province bordering Turkey, despite the presence of the U.N. observers, activists told Al Arabiya. The Syrian troops stormed al-Atareb town in Aleppo with heavy weaponry during an overnight demonstration that called for freedom.

In Duma, Syrian troops stormed houses within a campaign of crackdown and arrests. More Syrian troops were deployed in Deraa, where thousands of people rallied in anti-Assad protests. In Hama, hundreds of Syrians tool part in protests calling for the fall of the regime. They called for international protection.

The U.N. peacekeeping chief on Tuesday accused both the Syrian regime and its foes of violating a ceasefire accord, according to AFP.

On the international front, U.S. President Barack Obama gave the U.S. Treasury authority to tighten sanctions against Syria and Iran by going after foreign firms or individuals that violate existing measures.

The move, contained in an executive order, will allow the Treasury to publicly identify those engaging in “evasive and deceptive activities” and bar them from access to the U.S. financial and economic sectors, officials said.

For his part, U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Syrian troops have kept heavy weapons in cities, and that both the government and rebels have violated the truce.

He also said U.N. members had so far only offered 150 military observers for the 300-strong planned force and that Syria had refused visas for three proposed monitors.

But Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdisi denied visa requests had been turned down and said the two sides had agreed on the nationalities who could operate in Syria.

“We agreed with the U.N. negotiating team that nationalities of observers to be mutually agreed upon… So there is no refusal per se… There are far more than 110 nationalities that can easily work in Syria,” he told AFP.

Ladsous said 24 monitors were currently in place, despite earlier reports that they number 30.

Syria has told the monitors that the armored carriers have been disarmed but this has not been verified, Ladsous added.

Ladsous, a U.N. under secretary general, said government forces and opposition groups have broken the truce.

At the moment, two observers were deployed in Idlib, where rebel fighters of the Free Syrian Army have been active. There are none in Deir al-Zor.

Two observers each have been deployed in three other protest centers — the flashpoint central cities of Hama and Homs, and Deraa province, south of Damascus and cradle of the uprising against Assad’s regime that broke out in March last year.

The others remain based in the capital.

Meanwhile, an Islamist group that has claimed several bomb attacks in Syria said it was responsible for a blast in Damascus last week that targeted security forces and an Iranian cultural center and wounded three people.

The al-Nusra front said one of its members had attached an explosive device to an army vehicle and that it detonated at the cultural center in Marjeh Square, “hitting two targets in the process.”

Source: Al-Arabiya News

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