Syria: `Rebels kill 23 soldiers in Rastan`

The EU has imposed another round of sanctions on Syria in a bid to increase pressure on the government.

Zeenews Bureau

Amman: In another day of violence in Syria, rebels on Monday killed 23 Syrian soldiers in the central city of Rastan, according to a rights group.

The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said dozens of others were wounded in the city, 25 km (15 miles) north of Homs city. Also, rebels destroyed three armoured personnel carriers and seized two others, capturing around 15 soldiers.

Rastan, just north of Homs, has been under rebel control since January. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the activist network called the Local Coordination Committees said the latest shelling of Rastan started on Sunday in which at least nine people were killed.

"Shells and rockets have been hitting the town since three am (midnight GMT) at a rate of one a minute. Rastan has been destroyed," a member of the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) in Rastan who declined to be named told a news agency by satellite phone.

The attack on Rastan came after Syrian forces killed at least five people when they raided a Sunni farming village in Hama province, torching homes and looting shops in what appeared to be a sign of worsening relations among the country`s religious groups.

Also on Monday, the Observatory and the LCC said government troops stormed the Damascus suburb of Qaboun where they conducted raids and deployed snipers on roofs of buildings.

The violence in the restive central Homs province and elsewhere around Syria is eroding Annan`s peace plan that many see as the last hope to calm the crisis.

Meanwhile, the EU has imposed another round of sanctions on Syria in a bid to increase pressure on the government.

In Brussels, The European Union imposed visa bans and asset freezes against three people associated with Assad`s government. The measure brings to 128 the number of Assad`s supporters targeted by the bloc.

In Damascus, state-run TV said the results of last week`s Parliamentary Elections will be made public on Tuesday. The government has praised the vote as a milestone in promised political reforms, but the opposition boycotted the polls and said they were designed to strengthen Assad`s grip on power.

(With Agency’s inputs)