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Syria: Regime executes activists who met UN monitors | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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London/ Beirut-Asharq Al-Awsat – Syrian armed forces on Monday “summarily executed” nine political activists who had met with UN monitors during their visit of Hama on Sunday, whilst the city was also shelled following the UN observer mission’s visit, resulting in the deaths of 45, according to a human rights organization.

The Syrian League for Human Rights reported that Hama had been subject to wide-scale bombardment on Monday after UN monitors had visited the city and met with the local population who briefed them on the their suffering and the results of the military and security operations that have been enacted against them. The Damascus-based Human Rights organization claimed that 45 people were killed in the shelling, whilst 150 were injured, adding that the Syrian military and security forces – accompanied by pro-regime Shabiha militia – then stormed the city, detaining a number of activist. The regime forces then “summarily executed the activists who had met with the international observers.” For its part, the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that at least 31 citizens were killed by Syrian regime forces utilizing light and heavy arms.

In the latest violence to undermine the shaky 13-day truce, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights claimed that Syrian security forces on Wednesday shot dead four civilians on a bus in the northern province of Idlib, whilst a Douma local informed Reuters news agency that al-Assad regime forces had bombarded the city throughout the night.

The Syrian League for Human Rights condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the terrible “massacre” carried out by al-Assad regime forces against political activists in Hama, viewing this as a “crime against humanity.” The Syrian-based Human Rights organization also queried the role being played by UN monitors in failing to protect eyewitnesses who were subject to “revenge and intimidation” by the Syrian security forces.

This comes at the end of the second week of the UN observer mission in Syria, whose objective is to monitor the implementation of a ceasefire throughout the country. According to the Syrian Local Coordination Committees [LCC], at least 685 Syrians have been killed since the start of the ceasefire, whilst 200 Syrians were killed in 48 hours between the beginning of the implementation of Kofi Annan’s initiative, and the ceasefire deadline on 12 April. The al-Assad regime forces have reportedly continued to target Syrian protesters across the country, with some reports indicating that they have fired upon civilians in cities where UN monitors are present.

The LCC also claimed that a unit of Syrian security forces entered Damascus neighbourhoods on Tuesday after UN monitors had departed from the area, carrying out “savage” raids and arrests against those who met with the international observers. The LCC also claimed that Syrian soldiers in Idlib are masquerading as police officers, substituting their official identity cards and uniforms, in anticipation of the UN observers’ forthcoming visit.

The Syrian opposition has expressed its regret that the Syrian regime is continuing its military operations and failing to abide by the ceasefire in accordance with the Annan initiative.

Official LCC spokesman, Khalil al-Haj Saleh, told Asharq Al-Awsat that al-Assad regime forces are violating the Annan initiative on a daily basis, not least by continuing to kill shed Syrian blood.

Saleh stressed that “we understand the essence of the regime’s thinking. It is not concerned about any of these initiatives, and we are not exaggerating when we say that granting an opportunity for a political solution is tantamount to granting the regime more time to continue to kill civilians.”

He added “the regime going along with this political solution means that it acknowledges the presence of an opposition and popular revolution in Syria.”

Saleh described the Syrian regime as a “nihilist regime, from a moral and political standpoint” adding “we have no doubt that it will continue to kill civilians and harass activists, whatever happens.” He also told Asharq Al-Awsat that “the regime’s current focus is to discover the UN observers’ operations mechanism, in order to uncover a way to keep a tight grip on Syria’s rebelling cities, whilst at the same time appear to be cooperation with the observers.” The LCC spokesman also called on the monitors to ensure that it is not taken in by the al-Assad regime’s ploys, stressing that “the monitors operational mechanism, independence, and neutrality are more important than their numbers.”

Saleh added “I believe the major fault in the operations of the Arab League observer delegation was the fact that all their means of moving around and visiting different areas was dependent on the regime itself, which controlled their movements and operation. Therefore the UN observers face the major challenge of monitoring what is happening on the ground, without any influence or pressure.”