Assad Troops Shell Syrians Near Aleppo
Government troops continued to shell civilians with heavy artillery on Sunday in a civil war now being monitored by the United Nations.
At least nine people were killed in the areas of Deir Ezzor, Hama and Homs by midday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
On Saturday, the organization reported that at least 115 people were killed throughout the country.
Shelling was reported Saturday by an AFP journalist about 30 kilometers (18 miles) west of the northern city of Aleppo. The correspondent reported bombings every two or three minutes for nearly six hours, between the hours of 3 pm to 9 pm, with firing then tapering off to bombs being launched every 15 minutes.
Members of the Free Syrian Army have allowed journalists to accompany them into areas they capture and photograph what they find, so the destruction and ordnance discovered at government army bases that are seized may be documented for the outside world.
However, President Bashar al-Assad's official government spokespersons are denying that government forces have used heavy weaponry and aircraft against opposition fighters.
Syrian Foreign Ministry representative Jihad Makdissi denied the accusations by U.N. and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan, calling his comments about the fighting “rushed.”
The spokesperson called last week's massacre in the village of Tremseh – currently under investigation by United Nations monitors – an “operation targeting armed fighters.” He said 39 people were killed at Tremseh on Thursday, with all but two of them armed.
"Government forces did not use planes, or helicopters, or tanks or artillery,” claimed Makdissi at a news conference Sunday in Damascus. “The heaviest weapon used was an RPG (rocked propelled grenade.) What happened was not a 'massacre.' What happened was a military operation. They were clashes between security forces, whose duty is to defend civilians, and heavily armed forces that don't believe in a political solution.”
U.N. observers said that more than 150 people were killed there on Thursday.
More than 15,000 Syrians have died in the civil war that was ignited in March 2012 by the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region last year.
In Syria, the revolt began with anti-government grafitti scrawled on a wall in Dera'a by youths who were subsequently arrested and tortured by government troops for their rebellious act.
On March 25, more than 100,000 people marched in the city to criticize the Assad regime – and at least 20 protesters were killed. That same day, rallies were reported in Homs, hama, Baniyas, Jassem, Aleppo, Damascus and Latakia, and a total of more than 70 protesters were reported killed.
Protesters have continued to demonstrate daily against the government throughout the country regardless of risk to their lives ever since.