Syrian soldiers killed, captured during heavy Latakia clashes

Published June 20th, 2012 - 10:33 GMT

Syrian troops suffered heavy losses Wednesday against the rebels while UN observers remain with "moral obligation" towards Syria despite the suspension of their operations.

On the ground, the violence knew no respite. At least 39 people were killed Wednesday morning in the violence including at least 28 soldiers in the Latakia region, according to thr Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR). "Soldiers, including an officer, were captured by the rebels who also got their hands on weapons" in this region, said the NGO.

In addition to the 28 soldiers killed in the region of Latakia, another 11 people were killed in the country, including six civilians and five rebels. Near Damascus, a Shiite cleric was assassinated by gunmen in the area of Sayida Zainab, a prominent Shiite shrine in Syria, which houses the mausoleum of a granddaughter of the Prophet Muhammad. 

In Damascus itself, in the district of Tadamone, clashes erupted between regular forces and rebel groups. Clashes of this kind have multiplied in recent weeks in the Syrian capital.

On Tuesday, the violence left 62 dead, including 31 civilians, 27 soldiers and four rebels.

Since the beginning of the revolt against the regime of Bashar al-Assad in March 2011, over 14,400 people died in Syria, mostly civilians, according to SOHR.

Meanwhile, despite the suspension of its activities, the UN observers' mission - which expires July 20 - will stay in Syria, said Tuesday General Robert Mood, Chief of Observers, stressing that it was a "moral obligation". This mission was part of the peace plan introduced by the international envoy Kofi Annan.

On his part, French President Francois Hollande said that Russia was playing "its role to promote the transition" in Syria, involving the departure of President Bashar el Assad. He made this comment on Tuesday during a press conference in Los Cabos (Mexico) , after the G20 summit. "Those who massacred their people today can not be the future of Syria," he added.

"We have to strengthen the pressure of sanctions, giving observers a different mission from this of today". And he added: Towards Syria, "we have to reinforce the pressure of sanctions, giving observers a mission different from this of today, since the observers were withdrawn and find a political solution, that of Assad's departure," said the French leader.

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