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Eid holiday truce leaves 150 killed in Syria monitors

Published: Updated:
A “truce” brokered by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi to halt fighting in Syria during the Muslim eid holiday left at least 150 people, including seven women and six children, monitors reported on Saturday.

The deaths occurred mainly in Damascus, Aleppo, Idlib, Deraa,Homs and Hama. More than 280 breaches of the agreed ceasefire were registered, according to the Local Coordination Committees.

Brahimi’s ceasefire plan to stop fighting in Syria has been a failure, a rebel commander said on Saturday.

“This is a failure for Brahimi. This initiative was dead before it started,” Abd al-Jaber al-Akaidi, the head of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) military council in the northern city of Aleppo, told AFP by telephone.

State media blamed “terrorists,” the regime term for rebels, for a car bomb attack in Damascus that killed at least eight people and wounded 30, and a rights watchdog reported another deadly bombing farther south in Daraa.

Opposition forces accused regime forces of opening up with artillery in the embattled north, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported fighting near the key army base of Wadi Deif and shelling and clashes near Damascus.

The army said it was responding to attacks by the opposition who violated the truce agreed to mark Eid al-Adha, one of the most sacred holidays in Islam, which started at dawn.

U.N. and Arab League envoy Brahimi had brokered the ceasefire in the hope that if successful, it could lead to a longer cessation of violence.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces and main rebel group the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had both agreed to a call by Brahimi to lay down their arms for the four-day Eid, but both also reserved the right to respond to attacks.

“Armed terrorist groups attacked military positions, thereby clearly violating the halt to military operations agreed by the army command,” the military said in a statement read on state television.

“Our valiant armed forces are responding to these violations and pursuing these groups,” it added.

An FSA commander in the northern city of Aleppo accused the regime of breaking the pledge to stop firing.

“The regime does not respect the ceasefire, it is not shooting and there are no clashes but it has started shelling... What ceasefire? We can't trust the regime,” said Abd al-Jaber al-Akaidi.

“The regime is perfidious, a cheater and a liar.”

The rebel jihadist group Al-Nosra Front, which has claimed responsibility for deadly car bombings in the past, had refused to sign up to the ceasefire.

As the day progressed it became clear there had been little let-up in the violence.

The Britain-based Observatory said the truce had “collapsed” in several regions and gave a death toll of 81 on Friday, a day after 135 were reported killed, adding to an estimated death toll of 35,000 people over 19 months of conflict.