25 killed across Syria, clashes rage


Violence raged on Monday across Syria, where 25 people, most of them regime forces, were reportedly killed as clashes broke out in several restive provinces, monitors said.
The deadly violence came even as UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan arrived in Damascus to try and salvage a battered ceasefire, a day after monitors reported 90 people killed in Syria, more than a third in the city of Hama. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said clashes raged in several provinces Monday, including Idlib in the northwest and Daraa in the south, where the uprising against the regime first erupted more than 14 months ago.
Three civilians were among those killed on Monday, including a 14-year-old boy who was shot dead by a sniper in Al-Faria neighbourhood of the central city of Hama, the Britain-based Observatory said. Three rebel fighters and a member of the pro-regime shabiha militia were also killed by gunfire on Monday.
But the military had the heaviest death toll with 18 regular army soldiers killed in separate fighting, the Observatory said.
Eight troops died in clashes in the Damascus province while seven others were killed in an other district when their vehicle was targeted near Tal Mneen, site of a mass funeral for a civilian killed on Sunday.
Three other soldiers were killed when their vehicle was hit by a blast on the road to Aleppo airport road, the Observatory said.
Also on Monday regime forces deployed heavily on the outskirts of Houla, central Syria, where at least 108 civilians were massacred on Friday and Saturday, the Observatory said, adding “the sound of gunfire was heard.” Regime troops also raided a neighbourhood of Hama, site of intense clashes and shelling on Sunday evening. Violence killed nearly 90 people on Sunday, 34 of them in random shelling of Hama city by troops retaliating for losses suffered in clashes with rebels, the watchdog said. Demonstrators took to the streets in towns and villages across the country on Monday, to protest against the killings in Houla and Hama, activists said.
Crowds of children protested in two Idlib towns, while hundreds took to the streets of Jabal al-Zawiya, also in Idlib.
“Resist, resist!” chanted some of the protesters. “The UN is killing us,” read a poster held up by a demonstrator, according to amateur videos posted on YouTube by activists.
More than 280 unarmed military observers in Syria to monitor a cessation of hostilities that started officially on April 12 but lurches closer to collapse each day.
And Damascus shopowners staged an “unprecedented” strike in Al-Hariqa market, near the historic Hamidiyeh market, also to protest the killings, said the Observatory.
Online activists saw the strike as a step forward for the anti-regime revolt that broke out in March last year.
An activist who tweets under the name Free Syrian wrote: “A sign from Hama: ‘We don’t want foreign intervention, we want Damascus and Aleppo intervention.’ True, the regime will fall in these cities.”
More than 13,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-regime revolt broke out in March 2011, according to the Observatory.