Just one day after the Free Syrian Army’s Friday ultimatum for the UN to declare an end to the ceasefire passed without action, rebels were on the offensive nationwide, sparking battles on Saturday which left a reported 89 people dead, including 57 Syrian soldiers.
The death tolls were reported by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has become a de facto outlet for rebel claims of attacks. The group explained the deaths by saying that the “troops are vulnerable to heavy losses because they are not trained for street battles and are therefore exposed to attacks.”
The statement went on to claim that when the battles began, civilians overwhelmingly armed themselves and fought against the Syrian military on behalf of the rebels, saying this proved that the rebels enjoy near-universal public support.
Syrian state media didn’t report on the violence itself, but has been reporting on high profile military funerals for those slain by “armed terrorist groups,” including Brigadier General Nedal Ali Bashmani.
President Bashar Assad slammed the growing violence, saying it was part of a foreign plot, adding “we are not facing a political problem but a project to destroy the country.” The GCC member nations have been providing arms to certain rebel forces, and the US has been confirmed to play a role in helping them smuggle the arms into the country.