Syria Suicide Bomb Kills Nine as Ban Condemns Violence

A suicide bomb killed at least nine people today in the Syrian capital, Damascus, state media reported, as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the continuing violence “totally unacceptable.”

The explosion that rocked the Midan district of Damascus caused many injuries, the state-run Syrian-Arab News Agency reported. Security forces killed nine people today, Al Arabiya television reported. Three government soldiers were wounded when a bomb detonated in the coastal city of Baniyas, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.

Ban, speaking today in New Delhi, said the UN plans to increase deployment of monitors from the 15 now in Syria. Yesterday he reiterated his call for an immediate halt to the violence, focusing on government violations of the terms of a cease-fire negotiated by his envoy, Kofi Annan. The Annan plan appears to be failing, said Dmitri Trenin, director of the Moscow Carnegie Center.

“There are too few people who put peace at the top of the agenda,” he said today in an interview. “Damascus would want to annhilate the opposition and the opposition wants to do to Assad what the Libyan folks did to” the late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi.

Two people were injured today in an explosion near the faculty of agriculture in Damascus, SANA reported.

At least 28 people were killed in Syria yesterday, bringing to 259 the number who have died in the violence since the UN Security Council agreed on April 21 to deploy as many as 300 unarmed cease-fire observers, according to the website of the opposition Local Coordination Committees. The group counts 530 people killed since the April 12 announcement of the cease-fire.

Sanctions and Diplomacy

President Barack Obama’s administration will continue to use economic sanctions and diplomacy to pressure the regime of Bashar al-Assad, Derek Chollet, the president’s nominee to be assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, said yesterday at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Annan called April 25 for the accelerated deployment of monitors, part of his six-point cease-fire plan.

Finding and deploying unarmed monitors is going slowly, and it may take another three to four weeks to deploy 100 of the anticipated 300, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington. A total of 30 will be in place by April 30, Al Jazeera reported today, citing a spokesman for Annan.

“The West and Arab nations aren’t doing their fair share to help the Annan plan because their heart has never been there,” Trenin said. “The Russians have been far too lenient on Assad. They should have spoken so much more clearly, more robustly, about the killings going on.”

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