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Beirut • Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday and conducted what activists said were the most intense air raids on the suburbs of Damascus since the uprising began 19 months ago.
A government official said a car bomb killed 10 people on the outskirts of the city. TV footage showed firefighters battling the blaze amid wide destruction after parts of balconies fell on cars parked on a residential street.
Monday was supposed to be the fourth and final day of a U.N.-backed cease-fire to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. But the truce was violated almost as soon as it was supposed to take effect on Friday; violence continued unabated over the holiday weekend. Activists said at least 150 people were killed Sunday, a toll similar to previous daily casualty tolls.
The army warned late Sunday night that it will strike "remnants of terrorists with an iron fist" after they "repeatedly violated the cease-fire." The regime of President Bashar Assad often refers to those waging the uprising as "terrorists."
Mohammed Saeed, an activist based in the Damascus suburb of Douma, said there were at least 15 air raids on the suburbs early Monday. The Britain-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes carried out at least six air raids on Damascus suburbs including Rankous and Harasta.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the observatory, said airstrikes on Monday were by far higher in number than on any other day since the conflict began in March last year.
He estimated there were more than 60 airstrikes nationwide by early afternoon Monday.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep disappointment at the collapse of the cease-fire and urged more unity from the international community. Speaking in South Korea, he said, "I am deeply disappointed that the parties failed to respect the call to suspend fighting. This crisis cannot be solved with more weapons and bloodshed," he said.