Killing push seen in Syria ahead of deadline | News | DW | 07.04.2012
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Killing push seen in Syria ahead of deadline

Attacks by the Syrian government are killing dozens daily, activists say, as the deadline for an end to military violence quickly approaches. The US Embassy says in some areas, troops are just moving, not withdrawing.

Government attacks on dissidents in Syria killed at least 74 civilians and 100 people in total across the country on Saturday, activists said, leading to accusations that President Bashar al-Assad is rushing to eliminate as much of the opposition as possible before a cease-fire deadline next week.

Rebel groups said most of the dead were killed by fighting and government shelling in the village of al-Latamneh in the central Homs province.

The office of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon released a statement saying he "strongly condemns the latest escalation of violence" and "deplores the assault by the Syrian authorities against innocent civilians, including women and children, despite the commitments by the government of Syria to cease all use of heavy weapons in population centers."

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"The April 10 timeline to fulfill the government's implementation of its commitments, as endorsed by the Security Council, is not an excuse for continued killing," it said.

Syria agreed to a peace plan that includes a cease-fire and the withdrawal of troops and heavy weapons from big cities by April 10. The plan, brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, has received the backing of the entire Security Council, including Russia and China, which had blocked two previous resolutions.

"The Syrian authorities remain fully accountable for grave violations of human rights and international humanitarian law," Ban's statement said. "These must stop at once."

Satellite images

Meanwhile, the US ambassador to Syria said the Syrian army has withdrawn forces from some areas ahead of the deadline, but has only moved its troops around in other areas.

Robert Ford said satellite images made before and after alleged pullouts showed some true instances of withdrawal.

He also said, however, that "the Syrian government simply moved some armored vehicles out of Taftanaz to the nearby town of Zirdana." Taftanaz is a village east of Idlib city in Idlib province.

Ford has posted the images on Facebook.

"The regime and the Syrian people should know that we are watching. The regime cannot hide the truth," Ford said.

acb, ncy/tm (Reuters, AFP, dpa)

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