Syrian army shells areas near Lebanon border, activists


There was heavy shelling Monday by Syrian troops in the area of Zabadani close to the border with Lebanon, and an activist in the area said at least two people were killed and 10 wounded.

‘Dozens of shells fell on neighbourhoods inside the Zabadani area since the early morning hours. The sound of heavy shelling could be heard in Lebanese territories,’ Bilal Ahmed, a Syrian activist living near the border in east Lebanon, told dpa.

‘On Sunday, Syrian troops eased off shelling in the area, when Arab observers visited the region, but after the monitors left the shelling was resumed,’ Ahmed said.

An Arab diplomat based in Beirut told dpa that the Arab League would delay sending more observers to Syria until its meeting in Cairo, which has been scheduled for January 22.

Under an agreement with the Arab League, Damascus promised to withdraw troops from cities, release political prisoners and allow monitors into the country to assess implementation of the plan.

According to United Nations estimates, more than 5,000 people have been killed since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted in mid-March.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya reported that lawmaker Imad Ghallioun had defected and fled to Turkey, the second high-profile official to change allegiances this month.

Ghallioun told the broadcaster that he had defected because he could not continue to see the regime killing ‘its own people.’

Earlier in January, Mahmoud Suleiman Hajj Hamad, the head of inspection in the Defence Ministry, also quit.