WYSO

Rising Violence Claims A General In Syria's Capital

Originally published on February 11, 2012 11:46 am
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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon, and Egypt marks a momentous anniversary today. It's been a year since president Hosni Mubarak left power. That was the milestone of a series of demonstrations now known as the Arab Spring. Now, we'll have more from Egypt in a moment. But first in Syria, the struggle drags on. Violence is escalating, and the country's 11-month uprising is turning into a bloody conflict.

Twin explosions ripped through the city of Aleppo yesterday. State media reports that a brigadier general in the Syrian army has been assassinated. NPR's Kelly McEvers reports.

KELLY MCEVERS, BYLINE: Syria's state-run news agency says three gunmen opened fire on the general as he left his home this morning in the capital Damascus. The news agency says he ran a military hospital. So far no one has claimed responsibility for the attack. The assassination comes after twin bombings in Aleppo that were targeting security bases killed 28 people yesterday. Aleppo, Syria's major commercial hub and home to the wealthy merchant class, had remained quiet throughout Syria's 11-month uprising.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTESTERS CHANTING)

MCEVERS: Now, protests like this one are becoming common in the city. Rebel groups say the government launched the Aleppo bombings itself as a way to divert attention from its attacks on civilians, and as a way to convince people the uprising is actually the work of terrorists. Meanwhile, government troops resumed the bombardment of the Syrian city of Homs. Activists and human rights groups say hundreds of people have been killed in the offensive on Homs in the past week alone.

Witnesses say half the houses in the Baba Amr neighborhood have been destroyed, and many residents are running out of basic goods like food and water. They say more than a thousand injured people have no access to medical care. The violence comes as the U.N. might consider another resolution on Syria in the coming days. Russia and China recently vetoed a resolution in the U.N. Security Council. The new resolution would be taken up by the U.N. General Assembly.

That resolution would not be binding but analysts say it might step up the pressure on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to stop attacking civilians. Kelly McEvers, NPR News, Beirut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.