BEIRUT – Syrian forces fired mortar shells at a farming village in the country's north Tuesday, killing at least seven people, many from the same family, according to activists.
In one video posted online, a bearded man storms into a clinic and yells, "Film me! Film me!"
Counting on his fingers, he says the attack killed his mother, sister, two of his brothers and a nephew.
"That's my son!" he says, pointing to a wounded boy with white bandages on his legs, arms and back. "That's my brother and that's my nephew!" he says, pointing to a body on the floor in a pool of blood and another on a gurney.
The fresh violence in the village of Mishmishan underlines the continual unraveling of a U.N.-brokered cease-fire that was supposed to begin on April 12 but has never taken hold. The truce is part of a peace plan brokered by international envoy Kofi Annan to allow for talks by all parties on a political solution to the country's conflict.
The U.N. says more than 9,000 people have been killed since an uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011, prompting a brutal crackdown by government forces.
The shelling of Mishmishan, an agricultural area near the border with Turkey, also highlights the huge challenge facing a 16-person U.N. team that is trying to monitor the truce in a country slightly larger than North Dakota, where violence is widespread and often in relatively isolated areas.
Video posted online of a funeral in Mishmishan show hundreds of people marching through the village, then lining up to pray over the bodies, which lie in the back of three white pickup trucks. The videos list seven dead.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said 10 people were killed in the attack, seven of them when a mortar fell on their house. The three others died elsewhere in the village, he said.
The Observatory also said a 13-year-old was killed Tuesday in the nearby town of Maaret al-Noman by random gunfire from regime forces.
"He was in his house when a bullet came in and hit him in the neck," activist Fadi al-Yassin said via Skype.
Activist claims and videos could not be independently verified. The Syrian government rarely comments on specific events in the country and bars most media from independent reporting — despite agreeing to do so in accepting Annan's plan.
The U.N. observer team is supposed to oversee the truce and prepare for the arrival of the 300 observers authorized by the U.N. The observers' presence has tempered violence in some areas while the regime has launched attacks on opposition districts that have welcomed the team with anti-government rallies.
Syria's state news agency said some U.N. observers were visiting the embattled Khaldiyeh neighborhood in the central city of Homs on Tuesday. They also visited the town of Ariha in the north, according to activists and an amateur videos.
Analysts say the Annan plan is unlikely to succeed, though a larger observer presence could reduce violence.
It is unclear when the full contingent of observers will deploy in Syria.