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Rebels abandon UN-brokered ceasefire in Syria

Fresh attacks have been launched on regime forces, with rebels saying they had to ‘defend our people’.

A Syrian government soldier stands guard in Damascus last month
A Syrian government soldier stands guard in Damascus last month
Image: Muzaffar Salman/AP/Press Association Images

REBEL FIGHTERS IN Syria have officially abandoned a ceasefire with regime forces that was brokered by UN envoy Kofi Annan.

Anti-government forces have launched fresh attacks over the weekend, saying that hundreds of people had been killed since the ceasefire took effect in April.

A spokesman for the rebel military council told Reuters: “We have decided to end our commitment to this [plan] and starting from that date [Friday] we began defending our people.”

Questions have been raised over the viability of Annan’s six-point plan for peace after a defiant speech by Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad at the weekend, in which he insisted that unrest in the troubled country was due to a foreign plot.

In another sign that the armed conflict may be set to intensify, Syrian activists yesterday announced a new rebel coalition that aims to overcome deep divisions within the opposition.

The group, the Syrian Rebels Front, declared its formation in a news conference in Turkey. Khaled al-Okla, one of the organisers, said the fledgling group will coordinate with the Free Syrian Army, a loose coalition of rebel units.

“We might have some treaties or agreements to coordinate our work in Syria” said al-Okla, who claimed his umbrella group has 12,000 fighters. The announcement of the new rebel front was accompanied by a video presentation claiming the front has 100 “battalions or fighting formations,” and it featured clips of masked fighters declaring their allegiance to the new entity.

- Additional reporting from AP

Read: Syria facing ‘a foreign plot’ for destruction, insists Assad>

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Michael Freeman

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