DAMASCUS, June 20 (Xinhua) -- Syrian troops clashed Wednesday with armed groups in the central city of Rastan and two troublesome suburbs of the capital Damascus, killing and arresting a number of them, state-run SANA news agency reported, as activists alleged that 34 government troops were killed Wednesday in clashes with armed rebels nationwide.
The competent authorities returned an attack in Rastan by armed groups that attacked government troops and civilians alike, said SANA. Rastan, some 20 kilos north of the city of Homs, has spiraled out of the government's control since many months ago.
The authorities have also clashed with armed groups in Damascus ' suburbs of Douma and Harasta, killing and rounding up a number of them, said SANA, adding that those armed men have terrorized locals and assaulted public and private properties.
Meanwhile, the pan-Arab al-Mayadeen TV said clashes broke out between government troops and armed men in a number of suburban areas around Damascus.
On the opposition side, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 46 civilians were killed Wednesday nationwide, adding that at least 34 government troops were killed in separate clashes in a number of Syrian cities. Yet the activists' report was impossible of being independently verified because it's based on tallies and reports of unknown parties.
Earlier in the day, armed men assassinated a brigadier doctor in Damascus' suburb of Harasta, said SANA, adding that Brigadier Ghassan Abu al-Dahab, a doctor and head of the Harasta clinic, was assassinated in front of his house in Damascus by the blast of an explosion device that was planted under his car.
In another incident Wednesday, an armed group opened fire at a police convoy escorting a group of Italian journalists near the capital Damascus, killing a police captain, said SANA, as other media reports said that Italian Journalist, Claudio Acholi, was slightly injured.
The convoy came under attack while approaching Damascus coming from a tour in southern province of Daraa.
Meanwhile, a team of Syrian Red Crescent and International Red Cross are trying to access restive civilians in troublesome areas of central Homs province to evacuate them, head of the operations in the Syrian Red Crescent said in a statement sent to Xinhua Wednesday.
The evacuation attempt came in light of positive response by Syrian government to the Red Cross' request to access and evacuate citizens, and provide food and medical assistance to affected people in Homs.
In the statement, the Red Crescent expressed hopes that the mission succeed in entering the unrest-torn areas out of respect to the wishes of people that demanded their evacuation to safe areas.
The humanitarian organization also called on all fighting parties not to involve civilians in their battles and spare them the calamity of fighting.
On Monday, the Syrian government said it had exerted efforts to evacuate troubled people of Homs but was hindered by armed groups that "have taken people as human shields."
The government's remarks came a day after the head of the observation mission to Syria Maj-Gen Robert Mood called on all parties of the Syrian conflict to reconsider positions and to take immediate action to ease the pain of the Syrian people, who are trapped in the violence.
On Saturday, Mood announced that he had decided to suspend the patrols of his 300-member team, citing spiraling violence in restive areas.
The observers have been deployed in Syria since April 20, a week after the six-point plan sponsored by the UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan went into effect, and their deployment was believed to be the only workable item of the plan to end violence in Syria.
Mood accused both the government and the opposition of lacking the real will to push for a political settlement.
The plan calls for an end to violence, access for humanitarian agencies to provide relief to those in need, the release of detainees, the start of inclusive political dialogue that takes into account the aspirations of the Syrian people, and unrestricted access to the country for the international media.
The UN estimates that more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria over the past 16 months.
UNITED NATIONS, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The situation in Syria is " getting worse" as violence was intensified by both sides of the fighting in the unrest-ridden country, the chief UN observer in Syria told reporters here Tuesday, urging the international community to double its efforts to stem the violence in the Middle East country.
"The suffering of men, women and children in Syria, some of them trapped by fighting, is getting worse," Major General Robert Mood, head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), said after briefing the UN Security Council on the latest development in Syria. "It should be a focus of the efforts of the (Syrian) parties, and it should be a focus of the efforts of this Council." Full story
UNITED NATIONS, June 19 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council will hold consultations on Syria on Tuesday afternoon, UN spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters here.
"The (UN) under-secretary-general for peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, and Major General Robert Mood, the head of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS), will provide an update on the latest developments and the UN Mission's work (in Syria)," Nesirky said at a daily news briefing here. Full story