Thursday, August 02, 2012

Kofi Annan Resigns As Envoy as Syrian Civil War Intensifies

The outcome was all but assured. Bashar al-Assad paid lip service to United Nations Envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan, and his plan to end the ongoing violence wracking Syria for more than a year and a half. So Kofi has quit as envoy.

Assad continues to claim that foreign entities and terrorists are to blame for the violence, but it's Annan's security forces and loyalist goon squads who have introduced the violence and then intensified it as opposition groups moved to defend themselves.

The situation has been a civil war for some time now, as rebel forces have gained and held territory, including parts of Syria's two big cities - Aleppo and Damascus.

Annan's plan has been an abysmal failure though it wasn't exactly his fault. UN monitors could only look on as the violence raged around them; they were themselves targeted on more than one occasion. That ultimately led to their withdrawal. Assad never had any intention of stopping the brutal crackdown since he had no intention of ever stepping down or relinquishing power under any circumstances.

Aleppo is an urban battleground, with Assad's loyalists firing heavy weapons into the city and rebel-held strongholds, while the rebel forces have overrun some of Assad's positions and obtained heavy weapons of their own to return fire. Civilians remain caught in the crossfire.
Video footage seen by the Monitor shortly after the showdown bolstered rebel claims: It showed a Syrian armored vehicle with an RPG hole in its side still smoldering, and a number of Syrian soldiers lying dead at their positions on a wide avenue. Later footage showed burnt tanks.

The assault had been stopped, at least on the ground.

But shortly after came the roar of artillery barrages. Mortars, rockets, and tank shells were unleashed on the rebel enclave and did not end, nor even ease up, until well into the night.

Casualties began to pour in to the makeshift field hospital. Civilians said the intense shelling felt like regime revenge for the earlier military setbacks.

Few Syrians here forget the example of the rebel stronghold of Bab al-Amr in Homs – which was destroyed by weeks of artillery bombardment earlier this year, then declared "free" – or the more recent brutal "cleansing" of rebel turf in Damascus.

The bombardment was so intense that the United Nations estimates that in the last two days alone, 200,000 of the city’s 2 million residents have fled.

Artillery shells and rockets fell every few minutes in Salaheddin, sometimes as often as one a minute and sometimes in groups of five, coming in rapid succession. Some landed so close to the field hospital that shrapnel and debris hit the roof or walls.
Meanwhile, President Obama issued a secret finding authorizing covert aid to the Syrian rebels. He's also arranged for more humanitarian aid to those displaced by the Syrian civil war.

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