Syria

Foreign terrorists attack army checkpoints in Syria despite ceasefire

The Syrian army says insurgent groups fighting against the government have violated the temporary ceasefire by attacking military checkpoints in several cities.

According to the army, insurgents attacked checkpoints in Damascus, Dara’a, Homs and Idlib on Friday hours after a four-day ceasefire to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) took effect.

A car bomb also exploded in the southern Damascus neighborhood of Daf Shawk, killing at least five people and injuring over 35 others. Most of the victims are reported to be civilians.

The Syrian army, however, has said that it will continue to respect the truce, adding that government forces were responding to attacks by armed groups that were in violation of the ceasefire. The Syrian army had repeatedly warned that it would respond if armed groups carry out attacks or reinforce their positions, or if fighters cross into the country.

“Armed terrorist groups attacked military positions, thereby clearly violating the halt to military operations agreed by the army command. Our valiant armed forces are responding to these violations and pursuing these groups,” the military said in a statement read on state television.

The truce was proposed by UN and Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi, after which violence appeared to have died down and calm returned to most parts of Syria.

The international community has piled pressure on all sides involved in the Syrian unrest to respect the truce and a senior Arab League official said on Friday that it appeared to be holding. Previous attempts at ceasefires in Syria had collapsed.

Many countries, including Iran and Russia, have welcomed the ceasefire, and UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said he hoped it would lead to political negotiations.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the violence.

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