The Syrian activist opposition group, the Local Coordination Committee, is claiming that six high-ranking officials in President Bashar al-Assad’s regime have been killed, reportedly by poison. The regime is saying that such reports are “baseless.” One of those the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is claiming to have killed is Asif Shawkat, the head of Syrian intelligence — and Assad’s brother-in-law. Sources from the Revolutionary Council for Damascus are trying to confirm who exactly was killed or injured, says the Guardian.
A bomb exploded on Sunday near a convoy carrying General Robert Mood, the head of the United Nations team of observers in Syria. No casualties have been reported. The explosion occurred when Mood’s vehicle had stopped at any army checkpoint in the suburb of Douma near Damascus; the blast was large enough to blow off the front of a pick-up vehicle.
The activist opposition group, Local Coordination Committee, has also reported that 28 people have been killed including 19 in Hama, where heavy shelling by security forces has been reported in the town of Souran. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports that three children are among those killed, says the BBC.
The explosion near General Mood’s convoy and the reports of people killed just today, Sunday, are further indications of how the violence between the Syrian regime and the armed opposition under the FSA has escalated in the past weeks, since a truce was negotiated by Kofi Annan, special envoy to the UN and the Arab League. Earlier this month, a convoy carrying General Mood near the southern city of Dera’a also narrowly avoided an explosion.
Currently there are 257 UN observers in Syria; their number is to increase to 300 by the end of May. Over 10,000 people have died so far in the uprising, which began in March of 2011.
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Photo of Assad speaking in January 2012 by Al Jazeera English