Syrian gunmen attack pro-government TV station
(२०६९ आषाढ १४, बुधवार)
BEIRUT - Gunmen have broken through the gates of a pro-government Syrian TV channel headquarters, bombing buildings and shooting dead three employees, state media said, in one of the boldest attacks yet on a symbol of the state.
President Bashar al-Assad declared late on Tuesday that his country was at war and Wednesday's attack on Ikhbariya's offices - located 20 km south of the capital - as well as overnight fighting on the outskirts of Damascus show that 16 months of violence is now rapidly encroaching on the capital.
Footage aired on Ikhbariya, which resumed broadcasting shortly after the attack, showed bullet holes pockmarked a two-storey concrete building and pools of blood on the floor. One building made of corrugated iron had been almost completely destroyed and flames licked at the metal frame.
Opposition forces and Syrian army units, meanwhile, have engaged in deadly combat around elite Republican Guard posts in the suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday, as 116 people were killed across the country, a monitoring group said.
Hours earlier, President Bashar al-Assad said Syria was in "a real state of war" and US intelligence officials predicted a long, drawn-out struggle.
“And we are living,as I said before the People's Assembly, in a state of war, a genuine state of war in all its aspects, with all that those words mean. And when we are living in a state of war, all our policies, all our directions and all our agencies are focused on winning that war.”
UN human rights investigators, in their latest report, say the conflict is descending into civil war.
In a statement in Geneva, Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay said "we are gravely concerned by the latest reports of an upsurge in violence".
Syria's state-run news agency says an “armed terrorist group” killed three people during an attack on a pro-government television station.
SANA said terrorists planted explosives during the attack early Wednesday at the headquarters of the al-Ikhbaria satellite channel, but did not say how the employees died.
Syria often uses the term “armed terrorists” to label the rebels leading the revolt against Mr. Assad's nearly 12-year rule.
U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous told Security Council members the situation in Syria is too dangerous for U.N. monitors to resume work there. Diplomats at Tuesday's briefing quote Ladsous as saying the observer mission will remain suspended, as it has been since June 16. The U.N. official also said the Syrian government refuses to allow the monitors to use satellite telephones, which he called “key tools” of the operation.
The almost 300 unarmed military observers in Syria had come under attack several times with gunfire and bombs in the weeks before they stopped their patrols. The U.N. Security Council must decide by July 20 whether to renew the mission's mandate.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has a network of contacts in Syria including rebels, activists and state security members. Syria's conflict has killed more than 15,000 people. Its reports of fighting and casualties cannot be independently confirmed.
In April, following months of bloodshed, the Syrian government agreed to a six-point peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan. UN monitors were deployed to Syria to oversee a ceasefire but the truce never took hold.
On Tuesday Russia said its Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, would attend an international conference on Syria which Mr Annan hopes to hold in Geneva on 30 June to revive his peace plan.
However, Moscow is insisting that Iran also be allowed to attend, a move strongly opposed by the US and its allies.
The UN says at least 10,000 people have died in the uprising that began in March 2011. The Syrian government says 6,143 Syrian citizens have been killed by "terrorist groups" since.
The main rebel fighting group, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), has become increasingly better organised - and armed - and is in effective control of swathes of Idlib province and parts of Aleppo province in the north.
Source: Agencies / www.timesofearth.com