BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian activists said three intelligence officers were killed in Damascus on Tuesday while a separate bomb blast downtown injured three in the latest attacks on regime targets as the country’s 13-month conflict grows increasingly militarized
The attacks took place as a U.N. team observing Syria’s violence-ridden truce was visiting another area near the capital, the restive suburb of Douma. Activists and amateur videos reported shelling and gunfire in that area Tuesday, just a day after 55 people were killed across Syria — most of them in a city the observers had recently visited.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the three officers were killed early Tuesday in the Barzeh neighborhood but gave no further information.
Separately, an army truck blew up as it was driving through downtown Damascus. The blast in Marjah Square near the Iranian Cultural Center left blood and shattered glass on the road. The truck’s driver and two passengers in a nearby car were injured and taken to a hospital.
Security officials at the scene said the truck driver did not appear to be implicated in the blast, suggesting the explosives had been planted on the vehicle. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.
The Syrian government did not immediately comment on the attacks.
Rebels seeking to topple President Bashar Assad have ramped up attacks on military targets and security officers, some of whom have been killed in their cars on the way to work.
The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011 with mostly peaceful protests calling for political reforms. The government brutally cracked down, deploying troops, snipers and pro-government thugs to quash dissent, while many in the opposition have armed themselves for protection.
The international community remains divided on how to stop the conflict, with the U.S. and many Western nations calling for Assad to leave power while Russia and China have stood by Damascus.
All, however, have endorsed a six-point plan by envoy Kofi Annan that calls for a cease-fire to allow for talks between all sides on a political solution to the conflict.
Despite broad backing, the plan has been deeply troubled since the cease-fire was to go into effect on April 12. The Syrian government has not withdrawn its troops from populated areas or allowed media access and its troops have shelled opposition areas. Armed rebels, too, have continued to attack military convoys and checkpoints.
The regime cites such attacks in arguing that the uprising is the work of armed terrorists acting out a foreign conspiracy to weaken the country.
An 11-person monitoring team is currently in Syria to observe the cease-fire and prepare for a total team of 300 monitors to arrive later. But some areas that have welcomed the team with anti-government demonstrations have faced apparent retribution from the regime.
On Monday, more than 30 people were killed in the central city of Hama, just one day after the monitoring team visited the city.
One amateur video posted online showed blood in the streets. Another showed 15 bodies laid out in rows and wrapped in white cloth. The Observatory said 55 people were killed across Syria on Monday.
Syria’s state news agency said U.N. observers were visiting the restive suburb of Douma Tuesday, their second visit in two days.
A Douma activist, Mohammed Saeed, said via Skype that he had heard the observers arrived but had no information on their visit.
“The news here is very bad,” he said. “There are tanks and shelling and gunfire and the army has prevented fire engines from entering the city,” he said.
Amateur videos posted online Tuesday showed an explosion in the area and smoke rising into the sky as well as men and young boys dashing for cover as gunfire is heard nearby.
Associated Press writer Albert Aji contributed reporting from Damascus, Syria.
More Related Stories
- Here come the tornado truthers. Already
- Peace Corps to allow gay couples to volunteer together
- Moore officials: Funds for "safe rooms" were held up by red tape
- Rand Paul: Congress should apologize to Apple, not the other way around
- Rescue crews race to find tornado survivors
- Looting in Oklahoma?
- Hundreds of low-wage federally contracted workers strike in D.C.
- Okla. mother's tearful reunion with her 8-year-old son
- New campaign compares gun control to anti-LGBT discrimination
- Study: Salt Lake City is gay parenting capital of the U.S.
- Inhofe and Coburn: Red state hypocrites
- Teen activist to meet with Abercrombie CEO
- Watch: Family emerges from storm shelter after tornado
- Must-see morning clip: Barackalypse Now
- Okla. tornado survivor reunited with dog trapped in rubble live on camera
- Is Pope Francis an exorcist?
- Oklahoma death count confirmed at 24, 9 children
- Frantic parents search for children in tornado's wake
- Crews dig through rubble after deadly tornado
- 51 killed in massive Oklahoma tornado
- Don't cry climate-change wolf
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11