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Syria: UN's Ramadan truce proposal ignored - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Sunday, July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Lens Young Homsi)

In this Sunday, July 7, 2013, citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rises from buildings damaged by Syrian government airstrikes and shelling in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Lens Young Homsi)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Despite calls from UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon for calm in Syria during the holy month of Ramadan, which started on Wednesday, and the fact his calls were welcomed by new Syrian National Coalition president, Ahmad Jarba, the fighting continued in many areas of the country.

The Syrian army intensified its bombardment of Homs suburbs, especially Al-Khalidiyah, where fighting continued between the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and government forces.

The Uk-based activist group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said yesterday that government forces clashed with the FSA in the Homs area. Reports said government forces killed at least six rebels near the town of Talkalakh, west of Homs.

Residents of FSA–controlled areas of Homs have been living in fear following reports that government forces were planning to storm the area. The government forces have been clearing roads of obstacles in preparation for an offensive to take control of these areas.

Government forces, meanwhile, are also fighting to destroy pockets of FSA fighters who remain in the Damascus area. The FSA has launched a battle it called the “Storm of the South,” to gain control of the two Palestinian camps and the Tadamon suburb in southern Damascus.

Syrian official media reported that government forces made advances in the Homs suburbs of Bab Hod and Al-Khalidiyah. The FSA has admitted that government forces were in control of some buildings in Al-Khalidiyah, but denied reports of advances in Bab Hod.

In another development, the Syrian Journalists Association (SJA) has announced that journalist Kamal Sheikho, who went missing at the end of June, was being held by the Syrian security services in Damascus. He was stopped at a checkpoint and was arrested for “insulting a government official.”

The SJA said it holds the government responsible for Sheikho’s safety and “condemned its deliberate targeting of journalists.” It demanded that “the international community put pressure on the government to release journalists without conditions.”

Meanwhile, the BBC reported on Wednesday that dozens of Syrians in Aleppo staged protests against a rebel siege of government-held areas in the city. The siege has caused shortages of food supplies in the area.

And in another development, the UN Security Council called on Hezbollah on Wednesday to end its involvement in Syria. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah made a speech on May 25 in which he pledged full support for the Syrian government.