Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat – The final day of the so-called “Eid al-Adha” ceasefire between the al-Assad regime and Syrian rebels saw government forces carrying out the fiercest air raids since the start of the Syrian crisis, according to observers. Two explosions also shook the capital Damascus, whilst the Syrian opposition expressed doubt regarding one of these incidents. Activists said at least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a UN-backed ceasefire was supposed to be in place.
Clashes between Syrian regime forces and rebels continued in several regions on Monday. In addition to this, Turkish artillery fired into Syria after two shells launched from Syria landed close to the border village of Besaslan. Syrian opposition Local Coordination Committees announced that more than 105 people had been killed, mostly in Al-Hajar al-Aswad, Aleppo, and Rif Dimashq governorate.
Syrian state television reported that a car bomb exploded in the Damascus suburb of Jarmana, killing 11 and wounding 67 others, including women and children. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the car bomb exploded on a main street in an area that is known to be loyal to the al-Assad regime. The Observatory, citing medial sources in Jarmana, reported that five Syrian, including one woman, were confirmed to have been killed in the explosion, whilst seven others were reported to be in critical conditions. It added that more than 52 people had been injured.
Several hours later, Syrian state television announced another that a second car bomb had exploded in the southern Al-Hajar al-Aswad suburb of Damascus but did not give a number of dead and wounded. For its part, Syrian opposition activists claimed that there had been no car bomb in Al-Hajar al-Aswad, but rather the destruction was the result of air strikes by the al-Assad regime. Activists claimed that 10 Syrians were killed in the air strikes which included the targeting of a civilian bus carrying women and children which resulted in eight deaths.
For his part, a Syrian Revolution Coordination Union activist, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, asserted that “dozens of bodies were exhumed from under the debris of Al-Mahasinah Mosque and its adjacent buildings after it was targeted by warplanes.”
He added “Al-Ghawtah al-Sharqiyah and in particular Duma, Zamalka, and Harasta were targeted by MiG fighter jets.”
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that a warplane fired four missiles at farms near Al-Malihah in Idlib governorate. Whilst another warplane targeted farms near Dayr al-Asafir in Rif Dimashq governorate before going on to raid the town of Arabin and the surrounding area.
Syrian Observatory for Human Rights Director Rami Abdul-Rahman told Agence France-Presse [AFP] that there were more airstrikes on Monday – the final day of the supposed ceasefire – than any other day since the conflict began last March. He estimated that there had been more than 60 airstrikes nationwide by early afternoon.
Damascus’s Al-Asali neighborhood was shelled by regime forces who are trying to wrestle back control of the capital’s southern neighbourhoods from the Syrian rebels. Local residents informed AFP that the explosions were the result of air strikes.
The Observatory confirmed the deaths of nine Free Syrian Army [FSA] fighters during clashes with al-Assad regime forces in the town of Harasta. Clashes also took place in the Damascus suburbs of Babilla and Bayt Sahm.
For its part, the Syrian Network for Human Rights confirmed fatalities in Damascus and Homs, as well as regime warplanes launching air strikes against numerous targets in the Rif Dimashq governorate.
In Homs governorate, activists reported shelling by al-Assad regime forces helicopters and artillery of Al-Rastan, Al-Za’faranah, Al-Sa’n, and several Homs neighbourhoods. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported the renewed shelling of the Homs Dayr Ba’labah neighborhood, which also saw clashes between the FSA and regime forces.
Syrian regime forces shelled several neighbourhoods of Deir al-Zour, including Albu Kamal and elsewhere. An air strike on the Al-Kataf area of Albu Kamal resulted in the destruction of several houses and a number of injuries. Clashes continued between the FSA and al-Assad regime forces in the Idlib countryside.
In Hama Governorate, farms between the towns of Tayyibat al-Imam and Al-Lataminah were shelled by regime forces, whilst a demonstration was staged in the village of Al-Tawbah, demanding the ouster of the regime and the execution of its president.
In Idlib Governorate, at least five al-Assad regime soldiers were killed following violent clashes with opposition elements near the Wadi al-Dayf military base. Jarjanaz and Khan Shaykhun were also shelled wounding several people and destroying a number of houses.
For its part, the FSA claimed to have taken full control of north-eastern Syria, gaining full control of border towns like Salqin, Harem, and Darkush as part of an attempt to establish a buffer zone in the north of the country.
The Observatory also reported that warplanes carried out 11 air strikes on the villages and towns of Ma’ar Shurin, Salqin, Kafr Takharim, Harem, Isqat, and Khan Shaykhun. Several villages in Jabal al-Zawiyah were also shelled by al-Assad regime forces.