Shelling strikes Syr­ian towns af­ter cease-fire breaks down

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Shelling re­sumed on Satur­day in two gov­ern­ment-held vil­lages in north­west Syria and a rebel town near Damascus, state media and a mon­i­tor said, as a cease-fire for the ar­eas col­lapsed.

The vi­o­lence came de­spite talks about ex­tend­ing the truce that be­gan on Wed­nes­day morn­ing and aimed at reach­ing a fi­nal deal to stop fight­ing in the three ar­eas.

Syr­ian state tele­vi­sion said a child and her fa­ther had been killed and 12 oth­ers wounded in “ter­ror­ist shelling” on the regime­held vil­lages of Fuaa and Kafraya in Idlib province.

The Syr­ian Ob­ser­va­tory for Hu­man Rights, a UK-based mon­i­tor, said rebels had fired about 20 mis­siles at the two vil­lages and also re­ported shelling on the rebel-held town of Zabadani.

In Fuaa, a res­i­dent who spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity con­firmed the bom­bard­ment.

“To­day we’ve been hear­ing the sound of ex­plo­sions since dawn,” the res­i­dent said. “The truce failed and the at­tacks have re­sumed.”

The truce agree­ment be­tween rebel groups and pro-regime fac­tions, in­clud­ing Le­banon’s Shi­ite mili­tia Hezbol­lah, came into ef­fect in the early hours of Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Be­fore its ex­piry on Satur­day morn­ing, in­ten­sive ne­go­ti­a­tions had been un­der way for an ex­ten­sion of the cease-fire and a full deal.

The talks cen­tered on the with­drawal of rebels from Zabadani and the evac­u­a­tion of civil­ians from Fuaa and Ke­fraya, which are the last two gov­ern­ment-held vil­lages in Idlib province.

But the ne­go­ti­a­tions re­port­edly stum­bled over an op­po­si­tion in­sis­tence that thou­sands of pris­on­ers be re­leased from gov­ern­ment jails, ac­cord­ing to Ob­ser­va­tory chief Rami Ab­del Rah­man.

He said ne­go­ti­a­tions on the deal were con­tin­u­ing de­spite the ceasefire fal­ter­ing.

“The talks are on­go­ing, but there are breaches in the ceasefire,” he said, cit­ing sources close to the talks.

“It’s not clear if the breaches are at­tempts by the par­ties to im­prove the con­di­tions of the deal or come from those who want to thwart the ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he said.

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