The fate of the ceasefire in Syria continues to hang in the balance with neither the government nor the opposition demonstrating the will to halt sporadic violence.
On Monday, the Syrian regime was quick to point a finger at the opposition saying it was in full breach of the ceasefire agreement laid out by Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League envoy to Syria.
The state-run news agency, SANA, reported that in the city of Idlib, not far from the Turkish border, twin suicide car bombings had heavily damaged buildings near the state intelligence compound. The explosions killed 20 people, said the London-based Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, and SANA reported that 100 were wounded.
Graphic images of Monday's attack were beamed by the pro-government Al-Ekhbariya television station. Video footage showed smashed cars, debris and pavements stained with blood. The facade of a multi-storey building had been blown out, while four other structures had suffered heavy damage.
The government attributed the attack to “armed terrorists” — a term routinely ascribed to the armed opposition. However, no group has claimed responsibility for the attacks so far.
In yet another attack on a state bastion, rocket-propelled grenades on Sunday targeted the Central Bank building in Damascus. While only four security personnel were injured, the attack was of symbolic significance. An oil pipeline was also attacked on Sunday in the eastern city of Dier ez-Zor.
While no independent confirmation was possible because of restrictions imposed on journalists, the frequency of suicide bombings in Syria seem to be on the rise — evoking memories of the situation in neighbouring Iraq in the aftermath of the U.S.-led invasion. On Friday, a suicide bomber killed 11 people and injured dozens in Damascus.
The opposition blames the government of flouting the ceasefire. Al Jazeera is reporting that government forces have since Saturday launched military offensives in areas close to the Turkish and Lebanese borders. These assaults have followed attempts by a militant group to launch attacks from the coastal zone around Latakia, Syria's largest port city.
The Lebanese intelligence has also intercepted a ship bearing three containers full of Libyan heavy machine guns, shells, rockets, rocket launchers and other explosives. The Lebanese claim that the cargo was intended for the opposition Free Syria Army. Analysts say if Lebanese claims are confirmed, the Syrian opposition's commitment to Mr. Annan's plan would be seriously questioned.
With the prospects of the ceasefire holding in the grey zone, Major General Robert Mood, the head of the U.N. monitoring mission in Syria, arrived in Damascus on Monday. He is not a stranger to Syria as he had, in 2009-11, served as the head of the U.N. Truce Supervision Organisation, which monitors ceasefires in West Asia. The Norwegian veteran is pursuing a plan meant to ensure that 300 U.N. monitors are deployed in Syria. The 15-member monitoring team that is currently in Syria is located in the trouble-torn cities of Homs, Hama, Idlib, and Derra as well as the Damascus suburbs.