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Syrian truce in jeopardy as Assad's forces continue bombardment

At least 30 people have been killed in Syria in regime bombardments across the country, a UK-based monitoring group has said. The escalating violence has put the increasingly fragile truce at risk.

The Syrian Human Rights Observatory said at least 13 people were killed by the shelling of the rebel-held town of Douma, two more died in the government's airstrikes on Talbisseh in central Homs province. More casualties were reported in other parts of the country as President Bashar al-Assad's forces launched a barrage of airstrikes in several areas, including the densely populated Bustan al-Qasr district.

Deadly strikes in Aleppo on Friday killed at least 25 civilians

and injured more than 40, according to the observatory.

The latest bombings have jeopardized the already frayed truce between rebels and the government. A landmark partial ceasefire, which was negotiated by the United States and Russia and took effect in Syria on February 27, had dramatically curtailed violence across much of Syria and raised hopes that a lasting deal could be struck in Geneva to end the five years of bloodshed.

But Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said Saturday the truce had effectively collapsed.

"Most of the areas that were under the ceasefire are now seeing fighting again," he said.

Frustrated by the increasing violence, the lack of access for desperately needed aid and the failure to secure the release of detainees, Syria's main opposition High Negotiations Committee (HNC)

withdrew from peace talks

in Geneva earlier this week.

However, Staffan de Mistura, the UN envoy for Syria, said on Friday that members of his team had continued to hold "very, very productive" meetings at a technical level with remaining HNC members at their Geneva hotel. The most recent round of talks, which began on April 13, is due to continue until Wednesday.

shs/sms (AFP, Reuters, AP)

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