A bomb exploded Wednesday at the entrance to the city of Deraa, in southern Syria targeting a convoy of UN observers including their leader General Robert Mood. Six Syrian soldiers were wounded, according to AFP. "The device exploded after the passage of four UN vehicles. "
This is the first time that an explosion targets observers who have been deployed in Syria since 15 April to monitor a cease-fire continually ignored.
Behind these vehicles were those of the Syrian army and journalists who have been "thrown into the air," an eyewitness said. The Norwegian General Mood was accompanied by several officers, including his spokesman Neeraj Singh, but none of them was injured. Journalists also were unharmed despite the powerful blast.
The Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition coalition, immediately accused the regime which it said seeks to sabotage the UN mission. "With these explosions, the regime wants to leave the observers out of the pitch while the Syrian people request that their number increases, "said Samir Nashar, executive board member of the SNC.
He accused the regime of trying to "corroborate its theory on the presence of terrorists and Salafists in Syria, which is contrary to reality."
"This is a concrete example of violence against the Syrians. It is imperative that violence in all its forms ceases. We remain focused on our mission," said Robert Mood, quoted by his spokesman.
France has, for its part, condemned the attack. "We hold the Damascus regime responsible for the safety of observers," said Bernard Valero, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry.
Five people were killed across the country, while Syrian troops pounded Duma, near Damascus.
Yesterday, during a video conference with the Security Council, international envoy Kofi Annan said that his peace plan was "probably the last chance to avoid civil war" in the country. Mr. Annan also warned that his mission "was not unlimited in time." He acknowledged it was "very difficult to convince" the regime of Bashar al-Assad and the rebels to disarm."
Faced with the continuing violence, Riad al-Asaad, head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), threatened on Wednesday to resume attacks against the forces loyal to the regime. "We will not sit idly by (...) while the killings, arrests and bombings continue despite the presence of observers (...),"Asaad told the London-based newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. "Our people ask for defense given the absence of serious measures taken by the Security Council which is giving the regime a chance to commit more crimes," he added.