Syrian soldiers say they're scared, exhausted

(CBS News) The cease-fire in Syria is falling apart. The U.N. says Syria's dictator, Bashar al-Assad, isn't complying. New video posted online Thursday appears to show the city of Homs, a city of 1.5 million people, being shelled again as the regime tries to crush a freedom movement that rose up more than a year ago.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer was detained by the Syrian Army on Thursday trying to visit one of the towns where the ceasefire had broken down. She spoke with CBS News anchor Scott Pelley about the ordeal and the current situation in Syria.

Palmer: "We tried to go to one of the towns where the ceasefire had broken down. But when we went through the last main military checkpoint, soldiers realized we had neither a government minder nor written permission. So while they decided what to do with us we got a chance to talk to the soldiers, and they told us that they were tired. They haven't been able to go home on leave from five and eight months. And they're also scared. They say they're coming under attack regularly.

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Pelley: I wonder, is either side observing the cease-fire?

Palmer: From what the officer told me, no. He said he had orders since last Thursday when the ceasefire was due to start, that his men should not fire even if they were fired on. And he said of course it's hard to stop young soldiers from firing back when they come under sustained attack. So an admission that there it is breaking down sporadically, and of course in Homs it's broken down completely.

Pelley: And what's going on with U.N. observers?

Palmer: Well there was supposed to be 30 of this advance team here, now's there's only eight. They get out into some of the towns and villages where they've been mobbed by the locals. But it's clearly impossible for them to do any kind of comprehensive observing under these conditions. They asked to go to Homs but the Syrian government said, 'No we can't let you go there on your own.'"

  • Elizabeth Palmer

    Elizabeth Palmer has been a CBS News correspondent since August 2000. She has been based in London since late 2003, after having been based in Moscow (2000-03). Palmer reports primarily for the "CBS Evening News."

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