Skip to main content

Weapons-smuggling, infiltrators bedevil Assad regime

By the CNN Wire Staff
April 28, 2012 -- Updated 1919 GMT (0319 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 31 killed in Saturday's violence, opposition group says
  • Russia says "intransigent opposition" wants to "derail a peaceful settlement"
  • Lebanese state media says a ship with weapons was intercepted in the Mediterranean
  • Syrian state media says the weapons are intended for opposition fighters

Are you there? Send us your images or video. Also, read this report in Arabic.

(CNN) -- The embattled Syrian regime said it faced challenges from land and sea on Saturday as security forces beat back infiltrators, Lebanese soldiers seized smuggled arms and more clashes flared -- another series of blows to a teetering U.N.-backed peace plan.

This comes a day after a suicide bombing in a Damascus neighborhood killed nine people -- mostly government forces.

Russia, a friend of the Syrian regime, said the perpetrators of such actions must be punished and the "terrorists must be repelled decisively."

"Particularly alarming are attempts by the Syrian intransigent opposition is to escalate the situation in the country and foment violence even at the cost of innocent lives," the Interior Ministry said Saturday, according to Russia's Itar-Tass news agency.

"The provocative purpose of this is obvious -- to derail the peaceful settlement in Syria," referring to U.N. and Arab League envoy Kofi Annan's peace plan for Syria. The plan calls for President Bashar al-Assad's government and the opposition to cease fire, allow humanitarian groups access to the population, release detainees and start a political dialogue.

Meanwhile, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), reported Saturday that Lebanese military forces seized weapons bound for Syrian rebels from Libya.

The army intercepted a ship in the Mediterranean Sea on Friday and found heavy and light weapons aboard Saturday, Lebanon's National News Agency said. Ten crew members and the vessel's agent were arrested after the inspection in Salaata port, north of Beirut, the Lebanese outlet said.

Military forces near the coastal city of Latakia foiled "terrorists" attempting to infiltrate the city by sea, SANA said. Fighting led to deaths and injuries, but the precise number of casualties was not available.

SANA reported the killings of three security forces and two "terrorists" during clashes in Aleppo province. It also said an "armed terrorist" group in a provincial village in Idlib killed two law enforcement members.

Opposition activists said brazen military offensives unfolded across the country.

At least 31 people were killed on Saturday across the country, said the Local Coordination Committees (LCC) in Syria, an opposition activist group. Many were in the Damascus countryside while 12 occurred in the capital's suburbs, according to the LCC.

At least 10 military defectors died during clashes in a village in the Damascus countryside, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

U.N. response in Syria mocked
Annan's Syria peace plan may be dead
Opposition: Syria attack kills dozens
Report: Syrian killings after U.N. visit
Syria's deadly lies to U.N. monitors
Shelling of Syrian city intensifies
U.N. to send more monitors to Syria

Opposition groups and Western governments said Syria has not withdrawn its troops and heavy weapons from population centers, as the government agreed to do as part of the plan, and has continued aggressive acts. Syria blames continued violence on terrorist groups.

"The plan as a whole is failing thus far," State Department Victoria Nuland said Friday. "Obviously, we can all see that it is the Assad regime that is failing to meet its obligations under the six-point plan."

Even though the cease-fire appears to be unraveling, the United Nations is continuing its efforts to field a team to monitor the peace plan with an aim toward forging stability and ending 13 months of bloodshed.

As of Friday, 13 monitors were in the country of 22 million people. An additional 15 are scheduled to arrive this weekend, and a total of 300 are slated to arrive in the coming month. The United States is not providing monitors, but is helping with funding and logistics.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named Maj. Gen. Robert Mood of Norway as the head of the observer mission.

Syrian activists have accused the United Nations of failing to move quickly to get its monitors into the country, but Nuland said preparations take time.

"You have to take somebody who has experience and training in monitoring, understands U.N. standards, understands their obligations in terms of human rights."

The United Nations has to negotiate and sign contracts with governments sending personnel, which in some cases require parliamentary approval, Nuland said. Then there's the physical transport of the personnel.

Syria has been engulfed in violence since March 2011, when the government started started cracking down on demonstrators who were peacefully protesting al-Assad's regime. The president's family has ruled Syria for 42 years. Some opposition members have since taken up arms against the regime forces.

The United Nations estimates at least 9,000 people have died in the conflict, while opposition activist groups put the death toll at more than 11,000.

CNN cannot independently verify reports of violence and deaths within Syria, as the government has restricted access by most of the international media.

CNN's Saad Abedine and Jill Dougherty contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Syrian crisis
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 1448 GMT (2248 HKT)
As a 10-year-old, this boy first hit the headlines in 1982 when he saved his cat from a fire. This year, he was reported to be a suicide bomber.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1803 GMT (0203 HKT)
Aqsa Mahmood,19, would listen to Coldplay and read Harry Potter books. Then this Glasgow girl became an ISIS bride.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0823 GMT (1623 HKT)
The little boy looks barely old enough to walk, let alone understand the dark world he's now inhabiting.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0422 GMT (1222 HKT)
ISIS has released video of the aftermath of a mass execution. Another video shows alleged captured Peshmerga soldiers.
August 30, 2014 -- Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT)
The number of people who have fled Syria and registered as refugees amid the country's civil war will surpass 3 million Friday.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1849 GMT (0249 HKT)
Douglas McAuthur McCain, 33, grew up in the Minneapolis area, but died more than 6,000 miles away in Syria, fighting for ISIS.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
If the United States is serious about thoroughly defeating ISIS, it must, somehow, go through Syria.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1243 GMT (2043 HKT)
Jihadists have kidnapped over 140 Kurdish boys to "brainwash" them. But a few boys made a daring escape.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)
Reports that Syrian warplanes carried out a cross-border attack on Iraqi towns is further evidence of the blurring of the two countries' borders.
June 24, 2014 -- Updated 2133 GMT (0533 HKT)
CNN's Atika Shubert speaks to a father whose teenage son joined the Jihad movement in Syria.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1141 GMT (1941 HKT)
At the start of Syria's civil unrest, Omar would rally against the government alongside his schoolmates, later taking to the streets in his hometown of Salqin.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 2117 GMT (0517 HKT)
Atika Shubert looks at the rise of European jihadists traveling to Syria and whether they soon could join ISIS in Iraq.
June 23, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
The final stockpile of Syria's chemical weapons has been shipped out of the country, according to the OPCW, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
June 25, 2014 -- Updated 2025 GMT (0425 HKT)
The US isn't doing airstrikes in Iraq. Is there a vacuum for Syria and Iran to step in? CNN's Fareed Zakaria weighs in.
June 10, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh reports on Syrian rebels using underground explosions against the better-equipped regime.
June 9, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh returns to the besieged rebel areas of Aleppo, a pale skeleton of a city that has had the life bombed out of it.
June 2, 2014 -- Updated 1151 GMT (1951 HKT)
Syria may be embroiled in a brutal three-year civil war, but that's not stopping the government from holding presidential elections.
June 3, 2014 -- Updated 1123 GMT (1923 HKT)
CNN's Nick Paton Walsh meets an ISIS defector in hiding and gets a rare look into the group's recruitment process.
June 5, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Over a thousand Syrian refugees have turned an abandoned shopping mall in Lebanon into makeshift living quarters.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1616 GMT (0016 HKT)
More than 100,000 people reportedly have been killed in Syria since a popular uprising in 2011 spiraled into a civil war.
ADVERTISEMENT