BEIRUT — Syrian troops heavily shelled a suburb of the capital Tuesday, and satellite imagery showed that Syria has failed to withdraw all of its heavy weapons from populated areas as required by a cease-fire deal, an official said.
The shelling came hours after rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad killed three regime officers in separate attacks around Damascus, activists and state media said, the latest violence targeting the security forces used by the government to quash dissent.
A bomb hidden in an army truck also exploded in the capital, wounding several people.
The persistent bloodshed has tarnished efforts by a U.N. team of observers to salvage a truce that started to unravel almost as soon as it began on April 12. Despite the violence, the international community still sees the peace plan put forward by envoy Kofi Annan as the last chance to prevent the country from falling into civil war – in part because there are no real alternatives.
Despite the bombardment, U.N. monitors visited the restive Damascus suburb of Douma on Tuesday, their second visit in two days.
The Local Coordination Committees activist group called Tuesday's barrage the "most violent shelling" of Douma since the crisis began adding that the violence left eight people dead and more than 100 wounded. The group also said that troops shelled the nearby suburb of Harasta.
Amateur videos posted online showed smoke rising into the sky as a result of the shelling.
"We are dying," shouted Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed through Skype. "The observers are conspiring against us. Yesterday they refused to go with us to show them where the tanks are being hidden."
Annan, who was giving a speech in Sweden and briefing the U.N. Security Council in New York, called on the Syrian government to fully implement its commitments under the truce, his spokesman Ahmad Fawzi told U.N. reporters in Geneva.
"This means withdrawal of all heavy armory (weapons) from population centers and (sending them) back to the barracks. They are claiming that this has happened. Satellite imagery, however, and credible reports show that this has not fully happened, so this is unacceptable," Fawzi said.
Fawzi added that Annan is aware that when the U.N. monitors enter conflict areas in Syria that "the guns are silent," then "when they leave, the exchanges start again." He added there appear to be cases of Syrians being targeted by authorities after approaching U.N. observers monitoring the truce. Fawzi called the situation "totally unacceptable."
The observers also returned to the central city of Hama, where regime forces killed more than 30 people on Monday. The killings were apparently in retaliation for a large rally to welcome the team during a visit on Sunday.
An amateur video showed two women appealing to the team's head, Col. Ahmed Himiche, for protection.
"They slaughtered us! Our children are gone! Burning and killing and slaughter!" one woman yells, preventing Himiche from shutting the door of his white U.N. Land Cruiser. "If you really came as observers for us, have mercy on us!"
Team spokesman Neeraj Singh said the team also visited the city of Homs, where two observers are staying, and that two would remain in Hama.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an intelligence officer was shot dead in the northeastern Barzeh neighborhood of the capital Damascus. Also Tuesday, the state news service said "terrorists" shot to death a retired lieutenant colonel and his brother, a chief warrant officer, in an area southwest of the capital.
Inside the city, explosives planted in an army truck blew up as the vehicle traveled through downtown, leaving a hole in its roof and blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck's driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.
The state news service said an "armed terrorist group" planted explosives under the driver's side.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks.
Activists said at least 11 people were killed in Syrian Tuesday.
The 11-person U.N. team is in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total of 300 monitors to arrive later.
The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began.
Associated Press writers Albert Aji in Damascus, Syria and John Heilprin in Geneva contributed to this report.
In this Sunday, April 15, 2012 photo, Syrians walk between destroyed buildings in the Inshaat neighborhood of Homs, Syria. (AP Photo)
In this image made from amateur video released by the Shaam News Network and accessed Sunday, April 15, 2012, smoke rises from buildings across the city following purported shelling in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
This image made from amateur video and released by Bambuser Saturday, April 14, 2012 purports to show smoke from shelling in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Bambuser via AP video)
In this picture taken on Sunday March 25, 2012, a Syrian rebel stands guard in front of a damaged building, at Khaldiyeh neighborhoods in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo)
In this citizen journalism image taken on Saturday, March 24, 2012 and provided by Edlib News Network ENN, a Syrian boy stands next to damaged cars which were attacked from Syrian government forces shelling at Sarmeen town in Idlib province, northern Syria. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)
In this picture taken on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, shops and homes are seen after they were destroyed by Syrian government shelling in Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo)
In this picture taken on Tuesday March 20, 2012, a damaged part of a Syrian army tank that attacked by the Syrian rebels is seen next to a destroyed house , at Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo)
In this picture taken on Tuesday March 20, 2012, a damaged house that was destroyed by the shelling of the Syrian government forces, at Rastan town in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo)
In this picture taken on Tuesday March 20, 2012, a destroyed Syrian army tank which was attacked during clashes between the Syrian government forces and the Syrian rebels, in Rastan area in Homs province, central Syria. (AP Photo)
In this Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and accessed on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, houses are seen damaged by Syrian government forces shelling in Homs, Syria. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)
In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and accessed on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, houses are seen destroyed from Syrian government forces shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)
In this Monday, Feb. 20, 2012 citizen journalism image provided by the Local Coordination Committees in Syria and accessed on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, a damaged home is seen from Syrian government forces shelling, at Baba Amr neighborhood in Homs province, Syria. (AP Photo/Local Coordination Committees in Syria)
This image grab of footage uploaded on YouTube on March 20, 2012 allegedly shows a burning vehicle and gas cylinders, mainly used for cooking, strewn across a street after a mortar shell struck a gas depot store in the central restive Syrian city of Homs. ( -/AFP/Getty Images)
Houses, destroyed by shelling by regime forces, are seen in the central town of Rastan, near Homs, on March 13, 2012. (STR (FILES)/AFP/Getty Images)
A picture shows damaged buildings in the city of Rastan, near the flashpoint city of Homs, on March 9, 2012. ( -/AFP/Getty Images)
A view of a deserted street strewn with debris in the restive city of Homs, some 160kms north of the Syrian capital Damascus on February 25, 2012. (-/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice tweets:
|@ AmbassadorRice : #Syria regime turned artillery, tanks and helicopters on its own men & women. It unleashed knife-wielding shabiha gangs on its own children.|
Russia says international envoy Kofi Annan will visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the ongoing crisis in Syria. Russia also called for an inquiry into an alleged massacre that took place in the village of Tramseh on Thursday. "We have no doubt that this wrongdoing serves the interests of those powers that are not seeking peace but persistently seek to sow the seeds of interconfessional and civilian conflict on Syrian soil," Russia's foreign ministry said in a statement, according to Reuters. Moscow did not apportion blame for the killings.
Read more on Reuters.com.
The Associated Press obtained a video that purports to show the aftermath of an alleged massacre in the village of Tramseh, near Hama.
How do Syria's fighters get their arms? An overview put together by Reuters explains that there are three gateways to the country -- Lebanon, Turkey, and Iraq.
Syrian rebels are smuggling small arms into Syria through a network of land and sea routes involving cargo ships and trucks moving through Turkey, Lebanon and Iraq, maritime intelligence and Free Syrian Army (FSA) officers say. Western and regional powers deny any suggestion they are involved in gun running. Their interest in the sensitive border region lies rather in screening to ensure powerful weapons such as surface to air missiles do not find their way to Islamist or other militants.
Read the full report here.
This citizen journalism image made from video provided by Shaam News Network SNN, purports to show a man mourning a victim killed by violence that, according to anti-regime activists, was carried out by government forces in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers (nine miles) northwest of the central city of Hama, Thursday, July 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network, SNN)
According to the Hama Revolutionary Council, a Syrian opposition group, more than 220 people have been killed in a new alleged massacre in Taramseh. Earlier reports said more than 100 people were killed. "More than 220 people fell today in Taramseh," the Council said in a statement. "They died from bombardment by tanks and helicopters, artillery shelling and summary executions."
Fadi Sameh, an opposition activist from Taramseh, told Reuters he had left the town before the reported massacre but was in touch with residents. "It appears that Alawite militiamen from surrounding villages descended on Taramseh after its rebel defenders pulled out, and started killing the people. Whole houses have been destroyed and burned from the shelling," Sameh claimed.
Read more on Reuters.com.
Syrian activist Rami Jarrah tweets that Syrian State TV has confirmed deaths in Tremseh. "Terrorists" is often the term used by the Syrian regime for opposition forces.
|@ AlexanderPageSY : Syrian State TV: clashes between security apparatus & terrorists in #Tremseh of #Hama leaves large numbers of terrorists killed #Syria|
|@ Reuters : UPDATE: DEATH TOLL IN SYRIAN FORCES' ATTACK ON VILLAGE IN SYRIA'S HAMA REGION IS MORE THAN 200, MOSTLY CIVILIANS - OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS|