Activists say syrian troops shell central town of rastan, raiddamascus neighborhood

BEIRUT – Syrian troops shelled a rebel-held town on Monday, sparkingintense clashes that sent bloodied victims flooding into hospitalsand clinics, activists said. The violence in Rastan, in the restive central Homs province, andelsewhere around the country is eroding an internationally brokeredpeace plan that many observers see as the last hope to calm the14-month-old crisis. An amateur video showed a young girl who apparently sufferedshrapnel wounds in her thigh undergoing treatment in a makeshiftRastan hospital while screaming in pain. Asked where her motherwas, the girl cries: “She died.” Rastan, just north of Homs, has been under rebel control sinceJanuary.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights andthe activist network called the Local Coordination Committees saidthe latest shelling of Rastan started on Sunday. Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said the rebels wereable to destroy several army vehicles during the clashes and killsoldiers. The accounts could not be independently confirmed. The attack on Rastan came after Syrian forces killed at least fivepeople when they raided a Sunni farming village in Hama province,torching homes and looting shops in what appeared to be a sign ofworsening relations among the country’s religious groups.

Syria is overwhelmingly Sunni, but President Bashar Assad and theruling elite belong to the minatory Alawite sect. Sectariantensions appear to be growing in some areas, adding a dangerous newelement to the violence. Many Syrians accuse Assad of exploiting that divide by unleashingAlawite gunmen known as “shabiha” who operate as hired muscle forthe regime. The government blames the bloodshed on armed gangs andextremists acting out a foreign plot to destabilize Syria. Tensions stemming from the Syrian uprising also have touched offclashes across the border in Lebanon, in the northern city ofTripoli. Nail Glitter Powder

Street battles pitting Lebanese Sunnis — who generallysupport the Syrian uprising — against Alawite supporters ofAssad’s regime killed one person Monday, raising the death toll tofour since Sunday. The clashes began Sunday after authoritiesdetained an anti-Syrian Lebanese national. The violence further undermines a U.N.-backed peace plan that issupposed to bring an end to Syria’s deadly crisis. A cease-firethat was supposed to begin on April 12 has had only a limitedeffect, throwing into doubt the rest of the plan that calls fortalks between Assad’s regime and those seeking to end his rule. Clear Plastic Jars Manufacturer

Also Monday, the Observatory and the LCC said government troopsstormed the Damascus suburb of Qaboun where they conducted raidsand deployed snipers on roofs of buildings. In Damascus, state-run TV said the results of last week’sparliamentary elections will be made public Tuesday. The governmenthas praised the vote as a milestone in promised political reforms,but the opposition boycotted the polls and said they were designedto strengthen Assad’s grip on power. Syria’s uprising started in March 2011 with protests calling forpolitical reform. The government brutally cracked down on dissent,and many in the opposition have since taken up arms to defendthemselves and attack government troops. China Magnetic Exercise Bike

Some soldiers also haveswitched sides and joined forces with the rebels. World powers have backed the peace plan for Syria, which was putforward by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan, but the bloodshed hasnot stopped. More than 100 U.N. observers have been deployed inSyria to oversee the truce between the government and armed rebels. ____ Hubbard reported from Tripoli, Lebanon.

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