Idlib under fire
Idlib under fireReuters

Dozens have been killed by government forces in Syria so far this week despite attempts to enforce a UN-brokered “ceasefire plan,” an ongoing issue that the arrival two weeks ago of an advance team of 24 international peacekeeping observers has not been able to change.

The six-point peace plan advanced by UN and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan was supposed to have gone into effect 20 days ago.

The plan calls for:
1. withdrawal of heavy weapons and troops from populated areas,
2. unimpeded access for humanitarian aid workers,
3. the release of prisoners jailed during the uprising,
4. freedom of movement and access for journalists,
5. a political process between the government and opposition, and
6. allowance of peaceful demonstrations.

It includes the deployment of foreign observers to monitor compliance with the agreement by both sides.

But UN peacekeeper force chief Herve Ladsous confirmed Tuesday at a news conference that government forces are still using heavy artillery against the opposition in civilian neighborhoods.

"Our observers have seen a number of APCs (armored personnel carriers), for instance,” Ladsous told reporters. “They see a number of Howitzers and military equipment in most places where they are. It is being claimed that the APCs have been disarmed, but that is not verified in all places.”

On Tuesday, at least 35 people were killed by Syrian security forces across the country, according to the Local Coordination Committees (LCC), an activist network. Of those, 18 were in Idlib province near the Turkish border. Five were in the city of Hama, and four were in the central city of Homs, a stronghold of the uprising.

Eleven people – including four women and two children – were killed in a mortar attack on a village in Idlib by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad. Of those, nine were members of one family, whose home was hit by a mortar round in Mashmashan. A 13-year-old boy was also killed by gunfire in Ma'arat al-Numan, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In the province of Deir al-Zour, 15 soldiers were also reportedly killed by rebel forces.

Last Thursday, activists said up to 70 people were killed in a bombing that took place in the city of Hama. It is still not clear who was responsible for the attack. 

More than 9,000 Syrian civilians have died since the uprising began in March 2011, according to United Nations estimates.