Military is target of Syria road blast; 6 injured

No harm to U.N. observer’s convoy

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DARAA, Syria — A roadside bomb struck a Syrian military truck Wednesday, wounding six soldiers just seconds after a convoy carrying the head of the United Nations observer mission passed.

An Associated Press reporter traveling in the U.N. convoy said the blast cracked the military truck’s windows and caused a plume of black smoke. The convoy was not hit.

The attack was “a graphic experience that the Syrian people live with every day,” the head of the U.N. observer mission, Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, told reporters.

He said the observers’ work will continue as usual.

The blast went off after Gen. Mood headed into this southern city, the birthplace of the Syrian uprising, with a convoy of monitors and journalists. The explosion was more than 300 feet behind the convoy.

“We were driving behind the U.N. convoy as protection when a roadside bomb exploded, wounding a 1st lieutenant and five troops,” said a soldier who asked to be identified only by his first name, Yahya.

At least three bloodied soldiers were rushed away.

It’s not clear who was behind the bombing. But Syria’s rebel leader, Col. Riad al-Asaad, threatened to resume attacks because the government has failed to honor a cease-fire, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper reported Wednesday.

“Our people are demanding that we defend them,” Col. al-Asaad told the paper.

The comments were published in Wednesday’s edition of the paper and could deal yet another blow to a peace plan brokered by special envoy Kofi Annan, which calls for a truce monitored by observers to pave the way for negotiations for a resolution.

On Tuesday, Mr. Annan gave a bleak assessment of the crisis in Syria, saying violence remains at “unacceptable levels” and warning that his peace plan is the country’s last chance to avert a disastrous civil war.

Mr. Annan insisted there is still hope and said the presence of U.N. observers has had a calming effect on the crisis, which has killed at least 9,000 people since March 2011.

The conflict in Syria has become one of the bloodiest struggles of the Arab Spring, and world powers have been unable to stop the violence. Syrian President Bashar Assad still has a firm grip on power, and his regime portrays his opponents as terrorists out to weaken the country.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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