UN accuses both sides of violating truce in Syria
Syria's army on Wednesday reportedly suffered its deadliest day in a ceasefire when rebel fighters killed 20 troops, in the latest violation of the three-week truce the UN says both sides are flouting.
The rebels killed 15 soldiers -- including two colonels -- in a dawn ambush in the northern province of Aleppo, where two rebel fighters also died, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
The ambush occurred near Al-Rai village, after President Bashar al-Assad's forces had "scaled up military operations" there in the days since the truce took effect on April 12, said the watchdog.
Clashes near Damascus killed six troops, while the army shelled and torched activists' homes in eastern Deir Ezzor province and regime gunfire killed a civilian in southern Daraa, cradle of the 14-month uprising.
The latest bloodshed comes a day after the United Nations accused both the regime and its opponents of violating the ceasefire that is part of a peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.
The plan calls for a daily two-hour humanitarian ceasefire, media access to all areas affected by the fighting, an inclusive Syrian-led political process, a right to demonstrate and the release of detainees.
According to the UN, more than 9,000 people have been killed in Syria since an anti-regime uprising broke out in March last year, while the Observatory puts the figure at more than 11,100.
UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous said Syrian troops have kept heavy weapons in cities, and that both the government and rebels have violated the truce.
Human Rights Watch accused the regime of committing atrocities in the eastern province of Idlib shortly before the truce took effect.
The New York-based watchdog accused regime forces of summary executions, arbitrary detentions and burning and destruction of civilian property.
In some of the incidents recorded by the global rights watchdog, children were executed by regime forces.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund said Syria's economy was likely to contract significantly in 2012 due the violence and international sanctions against the Assad regime.