Abdulrazak Jabero Hisham, the head of the humanitarian organization’s branch in Idlib province, was shot dead by a “terrorist group,” the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said. The report said he was shot in the head.
Hisham Hassan of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, Switzerland, didn’t have details about the killing, but he said the man was shot on the road between Damascus and Idlib.
In the flashpoint city of Hama, security forces and pro-government militias assaulted neighborhoods overnight, an opposition activist group reported Wednesday.
The Local Coordination Committees of Syria said the forces, backed by military vehicles and armored tanks, assaulted various locations in Hama, one of the major bastions of Syria’s anti-regime sentiment.
The forces bombed the Bab Qebli area “from all directions” and destroyed several buildings, the LCC said. Several deaths and injuries were reported, according to the group, and the constant shelling made it impossible to rescue the wounded in the western city.
Soldiers also launched mortar shells in several neighborhoods, including those of al-Hamidiya, al-Faraya, Jarjameh and Alalillat. Explosions and gunfire rang across the city and soldiers fired rocket-propelled grenades and nail bombs at houses, the LCC said.
Hama is the site of the notorious 1982 crackdown by the government of Hafez al-Assad, the father of the current president, Bashar al-Assad and “tens of thousands” of people died at the time, the LCC said.
The LCC says the regime’s forces have been attacking the city and nearby communities, and that 953 citizens have been killed in Hama since the unrest started, “including 21 women, 53 little boys, 16 little girls, and 33 that were martyred under torture.”
“Since the beginning of the Revolution, in March 2011, Hama was one of the first cities to participate in the demonstrations in solidarity with the people of Daraa. On June 3, named the Friday of ‘Children of Freedom,’ Hama paid a heavy price for calling for freedom,” the LCC said, adding that it documented 66 deaths that day.
The city also lost hundreds of residents in August, the group said, when “the regime decided to obliterate the city … during the first days of Ramadan” and forces “stormed the city with tanks and armored vehicles.”
But the protests didn’t stop.
“In 2012, Hama sacrificed the first martyr of the New Year, minutes after it began,” LCC said.
The Syrian government blames the violence on terrorist groups, and says security forces are only trying to protect civilians.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another activist group, and the LCC reported violence elsewhere as well Wednesday: in the Damascus suburbs, Idlib province in the northwest, Homs in the west, Latakia on the coast and Deir Ezzor in the east.
The LCC said it had confirmed at least 11 deaths Wednesday — four in the Damascus suburbs, three in Hama, two in Homs and two in Idlib.
The violence follows a particularly bloody day Tuesday, when the LCC recorded 68 deaths across the country. Concern over the Syrian unrest has intensified lately as the Arab League and world powers work to end violence there.
Wednesday, Syria’s government agreed to a month’s extension of the Arab League monitors’ mission there.
The 22-member Arab League has called on the al-Assad regime to stop violence against civilians, to free political detainees, to remove tanks and weapons from cities, and to allow outsiders — including the international news media — to travel freely in Syria.
Its monitors began their fact-finding mission in late December to see if the regime is adhering to its demands.
The league is working on a proposal for al-Assad to transfer power to his vice president following the formation of a national unity government. The group’s plan calls for the government to start talks with the opposition within two weeks and for the formation of a new government within two months. A new constitutional council would follow, as would a plan for parliamentary and presidential elections.
A draft United Nations resolution on Syria obtained Tuesday by CNN calls on “all states” to take steps similar to those taken by the Arab League last November, when it imposed sanctions on Syrian authorities.
The U.N. Security Council “condemns the continued widespread and gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities such as the use of force against civilians, arbitrary executions, killing and persecution of protesters and members of the media, arbitrary detention, enforced disappearances, and interference with access to medical treatment, torture, sexual violence, and ill treatment, including against children,” says the draft, which was written by the French and is one of several in circulation.
Russia, an ally of Syria, has been seen as an obstacle in developing a tough U.N. resolution toward the al-Assad regime because it has veto power as a permanent council member.
On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country has been sharply critical of the al-Assad regime.
The Russian news agency Interfax reported that Lavrov said “Russia and Turkey are urging all the sides in Syria to stop violence, and consider any outside military intervention to be unacceptable.”
Lavrov said it seemed to him that “our fundamental approaches coincide. We are certainly calling for an end to violence in Syria, wherever it is coming from,” Interfax reported.
The uprising against the regime and the resulting government crackdown have engulfed the country for more than 10 months. The United Nations last month estimated that more than 5,000 people have died since March.
Opposition groups are estimating a higher death toll. The LCC said Tuesday more than 6,600 deaths have been documented since the unrest began. Avaaz, a global political activist group, says the death toll has exceeded 7,000.