A fragile ceasefire in war-torn Syria crumbled early Friday morning, the first of the Eid al-Adha festival days, as a car bomb detonated in Damascus, and government troops along with rebel fighters resumed the violence that has by some accounts killed more than 34,000 people.
Hours after the ceasefire began at 6 a.m. local time, clashes began outside a military base near Maaret al-Numan on the road between Damascus and Aleppo, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported by the BBC. At least three were killed by tank and sniper fire in the Damascus suburb of Harasta.
U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi brokered the agreement for both sides to lay down their arms for the festival honoring Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael to God. Military commanders remained skeptical after the government and rebel fighters agreed to the ceasefire. Prior attempts at temporary peace in March fell apart within days, with both sides blaming the other.
Syrian President Bashar Assad made a rare public appearance to attend a mosque for morning prayers.
Tensions were high in Aleppo leading up to the Friday ceasefire, where a large amount of the fighting has taken place, as Syrian soldiers and rebel forces faced one another on a hair trigger.
"Everyone knows this is the opportunity to take more ground," Musa Chowdhury tells US News. The freelance photojournalist currently in Al-bab was in Aleppo on Thursday. "Some fighters are on full alert in case the other side regroups or advances."
"There is no trust," he says. "The blood that has been shed will be hard to forgive."
Neither side can find ground on which to agree, he says, since almost everyone has lost a loved one, comrade or has been shot at themselves.
The Human Rights Center in Deir Al-Zour reported yesterday that civilians leaving the eastern Syrian city on the bank of the Euphrates discovered 40 bodies dumped in a graveyard. All of the victims were non-militants, women and children. Learn more at the organization's Facebook page.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This post contains graphic images.)
Just took this pic from Turkey border with Syria. Smoke rising from Syria town of Harim. No sign of ceasefire. twitter.com/JamesEReynolds…— James Reynolds (@JamesEReynolds) October 26, 2012
A Google translation of this unconfirmed tweet, originally written in Indonesian, says : "Said a brother of Syria: 'Only in Syria there are prayers on the feast of the bodies after the prayers.'"
A car bomb in Damascus on Friday killed five and wounded 32, including several children, reports The Guardian.
Check out this video of the resulting damage.
The New York Times reported Friday morning that Syria was significantly quieter than it had been for a while, referring only to "scattered clashes."
"With the threat of violence diminished, protesters emerged onto the streets of cities and towns across the country," according to the report.
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Paul D. Shinkman is a national security reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at email@example.com