Syrian warplanes bombard rebels with 60 airstrikes

Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday, the most intense air raids since the uprising began 19 months ago, according to anti-regime activists. The suburbs of the capital Damascus were particularly hard hit.

Activists said at least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a UN-backed truce was supposed to be in effect. They said that the death toll for Monday touched 80.

A government official said that a car bomb killed 10 people on the outskirts of Damascus and TV footage showed firemen fighting the blaze after parts of balconies fell on cars parked on a street. Another car bomb exploded in a Damascus neighbourhood. State-run news agency said there were many casualties.

Monday was supposed to be the fourth and final day of a UN-backed ceasefire to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

The army warned on late Sunday night that it will strike "remnants of terrorists with an iron fist'' after they "repeatedly violated the ceasefire".

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said airstrikes on Monday were by far higher than on any other day since the conflict began in March last year.

A Syrian official said the car bomb in the Damascus suburb of Jaramana also wounded 41 people and heavily damaged shops and apartments in the area inhabited by Christians and members of the Druse minority sect.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed deep disappointment at the collapse of the ceasefire 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 can't be solved with weapons and bloodshed," he said.

UN International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters in Moscow that the failure of the ceasefire will not discourage him and his supporters.

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