Syrian armed groups threaten kill civilians to push out army

 
Terrorist groups in the Syrian city of Homs have threatened to kill civilians if the Army refuses to retreat. (File photo)

Syrian armed gangs operating in the flashpoint city of Homs have threatened to start killing civilians if the Army refuses to leave.

Officials say up to 5,000 civilians have been taken hostage by armed gangs in Homs, where the gunmen are attacking both private and public properties. 

The sound of gun-fire and explosions could be heard from the city on Wednesday.

The army has reportedly halted its operations to avoid civilian casualties there.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011.

Both the government and armed groups accuse each other of intensifying the violence.

The head of the UN mission in Syria Major General Robert Mood suspended the group’s operations on June 16 due to “intensification of armed violence.”

On June 16, the Norwegian general said in a statement that the “lack of willingness by the parties to seek a peaceful transition, and the push towards advancing military positions is increasing the losses on both sides: innocent civilians, men, women and children are being killed every day.”

Mood said that some of the observers were targeted and prevented from implementing their mandate to oversee the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan’s six-point ceasefire plan.

Meanwhile, the Syrian ambassador to the UN, Bashar Ja’afari, told reporters in New York on June 19 that armed groups in Syria were violating the Annan peace plan and that the “only way to push forward is to guarantee the success of the six-point plan.”

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