Daily Dispatch

Tension rises in Syria

Fighting escalates as fear of conflict spilling into Lebanon grow


SYRIAN forces yesterday heavily shelled the central provinces of Homs and Hama, killing nine people, as clashes raged between opposition rebels and Syrian troops, activists said.

“The clashes started at dawn as security forces started to storm the area of al-rastan, which is under the control of the Free Syrian Army,” an activist based in the region, Omar Homsi, said.

“Around 10 shells are falling every minute, this is the heaviest shelling we are witnessing since the April ceasefire went into effect.”

Homsi said initial reports said that two people were killed and six others were wounded in the area.

The Un-brokered April 12 ceasefire has had only a limited effect, throwing into doubt the peace plan by internatio­nal envoy Kofi Annan to end the 14-month conflict in Syria.

Meanwhile, government forces backed by tanks, shot dead seven civilians when they stormed a restive Sunni Muslim village west of the city of Hama overnight.

In neighbouri­ng Lebanon, fighting resumed in the northern port city of Tripoli early yesterday between members of the Alawite minority loyal to Syrian President Bashar alAssad and members of the Sunni majority.

According to local radio one person was killed and others were wounded.

On Sunday, four people were killed and 10 others wounded in similar clashes in Lebanon, prompting fears the conflict was spilling over into Syria’s neighbour.

The Syrian government has repeatedly complained that arms and fighters are being smuggled into its territory from Lebanon to assist opposition rebels. — SAPA-DPA

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