Gunmen killed a Syrian general outside his home in Damascus a day after two suicide bombers attacked a military security branch and police headquarters in the northern city of Aleppo.
Brigadier General Issa al-Kholi was killed by three gunmen as part of a “framework of targeting Syrian intellectuals and the medical and technical cadres,” the official Syrian Arab News Service said today. Al-Kholi was the director of the Hamish Hospital in Damascus, it said.
The prospect of civil war has been growing as the daily death toll mounts and President Bashar al-Assad uses tanks and artillery to try and crush an 11-month rebellion that has left more than 5,400 people dead since it began in March last year, according to UN estimates. Syrian forces killed 35 people today, including 19 in Homs, Al Arabiya television reported, citing the Syrian Revolution Committee.
“The situation is clearly getting worse,” Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Dubai-based Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis, said in a phone interview. “What happened in Aleppo is the first sign of moving toward a breakdown of the regime. It is unlikely that Assad can win this with force.”
Two car bombers attacked a military security branch and police headquarters in Aleppo yesterday, killing 28 and injuring 235 military personal, civilians and children, the government news service said today.
The first bomber struck at 9 a.m. at a law-enforcement office in the city’s al-Arkoub district, killing 11 and wounding 130, then a second detonated a few minutes later at the military security branch in New Aleppo, the news service said.
In the Lebanese city of Tripoli, two people were killed in clashes between supporters of Assad and his opponents, Al Arabiya television reported, without saying where it got the information. Nineteen people were injured, Al Arabiya said. Eleven soldiers were killed yesterday in Idlib, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mail today.
Assad’s forces stepped up efforts to crush the uprising since Russia and China vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution on Feb. 4 that aimed to facilitate a political solution to the conflict. More than 300 people have died during the siege of the city of Homs since Feb. 3, Human Rights Watch said Feb 9.
Arab League Meeting
Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah said yesterday that the world’s confidence in the UN was “shaken” after the Russian and Chinese veto. The kingdom has joined other Gulf Arab countries in isolating the Assad government. The Gulf Cooperation Council’s six members announced on Feb. 7 that they were expelling Syrian ambassadors from their capitals.
The Arab League meets tomorrow in Cairo to discuss sending monitors back Syria after pulling them out last month. The Arab League in November imposed sanctions on Syria and sent monitors to the country in an effort to stop the violence. The 22-member league later drafted a plan that called for the formation of a national unity government within two months to pave way for elections.
The group may seek approval in the UN’s 193-member General Assembly of its plan for Assad to step aside, according to two senior UN diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because plans haven’t been made final.
“Because the level of violence is getting worse, it is drawing more and more attention by the international community that something needs to be done,” Karasik said.
Russia is seeking to broker talks between the Syrian government and the opposition, while China has suggested further cooperation at the UN. France is pressing for deepening ties with Syrian protesters