Army Major Killed in Central Syria While Anti-Government Protests Continue
Damascus, April 13 (Xinhua-RHC) Syria's official media said "armed terrorists" assassinated an army major in the central Hama province on Friday, just hours after the killing of a brigadier in the capital Damascus. Major Musa Yusuf was killed when two "terrorists" ambushed his car while he was en route to work, said state-run SANA news agency. Earlier on Friday, Brigadier Walid Joni was gunned down in his house in the Jaramana area in Damascus. Joni is the third senior officer to have been killed in three days.
Meanwhile, SANA said "terrorist groups" threw dynamite sticks at law-enforcement patrols in the Sabunia neighborhood in Hama, causing no casualties. In the northern province of Idlib, authorities blocked an infiltration attempt by gunmen coming from Turkish territory, SANA said, adding that some of the gunmen fled back to Turkey after the confrontation. The incidents came as thousands of people staged anti-government rallies countrywide to call for the downfall of the leadership and to test the government's sincerity in applying the truce deal brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan, which called for a troop withdrawal from populated areas by April 10 and a cease-fire by April 12.
The UN-brokered truce went into effect at 6 a.m. Damascus time (GMT 0300) on Thursday. Opposition activists later said the situation across Syria was calm in the hours that followed the deadline. However, Syria accused the opposition of breaking the cease- fire, and its permanent representative at the UN cited eight attacks by the opposition on Thursday. Analysts say that the recent incidents in Syria were not as severe as before the deadline, but may still jeopardize the already-fragile truce.