Armed attacks on Syrian sites appear to rise
BEIRUT — Deserters from the Syrian army reportedly carried out attacks against the offices of the Syrian ruling Baath party in northwestern Syria on Thursday, a day after they claimed an assault on an intelligence base that Russia, Syria’s closest ally, said was bringing the country closer to civil war.
The Syrian government did not mention either of the attacks, which were reported by activists, citing the accounts of local residents, and their scale and effectiveness was not clear. But even without a firm picture of any damage, the attacks were, at a minimum, indicative of growing boldness on the part of military defectors in the face of a crackdown that the United Nations says has killed more than 3,500 people.
Some analysts said that the military defections may be increasing after an Arab League rebuke, a powerful signal that even Syria’s Arab neighbors could no longer brook the bloody crackdown.
On Thursday, the civilian toll mounted. The Local Coordination Committees, an opposition group, said that at least 11 people were killed across Syria, including four army defectors, seven civilians and two minors.
In Moscow, Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov said that the international community should call on all sides in Syria to stop the bloodshed. “There are more and more weapons that are being smuggled in from neighboring countries,” Lavrov said. Today, I saw a television report about some new so-called rebel Free Syrian Army organizing an attack on the government building, on the building belonging to Syria’s armed forces.
“This was quite similar to a true civil war,” he added.
At the United Nations, Germany, France and Britain were circulating a draft General Assembly resolution endorsing the Arab League-brokered peace plan calling on Syria to halt all violence and withdraw armed forces from civilian areas, moving to further quarantine Syria internationally as well as in the Arab world. Several Arab countries expressed interest in helping to sponsor the measure, the German mission said in a statement. The resolution will likely be voted on next Tuesday, diplomats said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition group operating in exile, said that armed fighters believed to be members of the Free Syrian Army launched an attack with rocket-propelled grenades on a building housing the offices for the Baath party in the city of Maarat al-Noaman. The group said clashes ensued between the fighters and security forces who were outside the building.
Abo Moayed, an activist from Idlib who said he is in contact with fighters from the Free Syrian Army, said that the attack was launched after receiving signals from soldiers inside the building. “Around 250 fighters participated in this attack. And after the attack 60 soldiers who were in the building defected and left the town.”
There was no way to confirm the account or assess whether it might be exaggerated.