Syrian rebels followed through on their promise to resume fighting if President Bashar al-Assad failed to observe a U.N.-backed ceasefire, leaving at least 80 army soldiers dead, according to an opposition watchdog.
This most recent clash of violence in the unstable region, as well as Assad’s defiant speech to Syrian parliament Sunday, has left many wondering how long U.N. envoy Kofi Annan can pursue a peace plan, according to Reuters.
The promise from Syrian rebels came after a massacre in the Houla region killed 108 civilians, almost half of them children, following a protest against the government on May 25th.
Michael Stephens, researcher at the Royal United Services Institute’s branch in Qatar, stated according to Reuters that:
“The Annan mission is essentially dead, and of course most Western powers admit that. Houla changed the game completely in terms of what people were willing to accept and what they were not.”
Following the massacre, several U.N. countries expelled top Syrian diplomats from their countries, including the U.S. and Britain. The Syrian rebel spokesman Major Sami al-Kurdi also gave the following statement to Reuters:
“We have decided to end our commitment to this [plan] and starting from that date [Friday] we began defending our people.”
The Star reports that during Assad’s speech to parliament on Sunday, he stated:
“When a surgeon performs an operation to treat a wound, do we say to him: ‘Your hands are covered in blood’? Or do we thank him for saving the patient?”
The Irish Times reports that Rami Abdelrahman, who heads the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, stated that many army checkpoints were attacked and destroyed in heavy clashes overnight in the Idlib province, where many rebels of the Free Syrian Army operated. He stated:
“A minimum of four to six checkpoints in the village of Ariha were attacked and destroyed in the last 24 hours.”
The only response the Syrian government has had to the conflict is to say, according to Reuters, that they buried 30 army soldiers killed by rebels on Monday.