Syria: Army intensifies attack on Rastane amid opposition divisions
The rebel city of Rastane, in central Syria, was heavily bombed Thursday at dawn by the army who wants "to destroy it gradually," according to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR). The city, located in the province of Homs was bombed in the night "with three shells per minute," said Rami Abdel Rahman, president of the London-based NGO.
He called on UN observers deployed in the country to monitor daily truce violations and to "proceed immediately to the city of Rastane". "They want people not to close their eyes at night, they want to completely destroy their morale," said Rahman.
Besieged by the army, Rastane has been out of government control for several months. The Syrian army has tried several times unsuccessfully to recapture the city. On 14 May, 23 soldiers were killed during an attempted assault.
Elsewhere, government troops stormed the southern city of Deraa and were deployed in several neighborhoods in an attempt "to end the general strike" in progress. Gunfire was heard, according to SOHR. And in the province of Damascus in the town of Erbine, army forces conducted an arrest operation. In the town of Kanker, three civilians were also arrested. In the city of Qouteifa, clashes took place at night after the desertion of soldiers from a military post. On Wednesday, at least 44 people, mostly civilians, were killed across the country.
Politically, the local Committees for Coordination (LCC) threatened to withdraw from the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition coalition, because of the "monopoly" of power within this body. This threat came two days after the decision to keep Burhan Ghalioun as the SNC chief, although he was contested by other Council members and despite rules that stipulate a rotating presidency every three months.
The LCC denounced "errors" by the SNC as "a total lack of harmony between the vision of the SNC and that of the revolutionary movement."