First Published: 2012-04-05


Fierce clashes near Damascus


More than 1,000 Syrian refugees flee to Turkey in last 24 hours as violence rages in strife-torn Syria.


Middle East Online

clashes between soldiers and rebel forces were reported in Douma

BEIRUT - Fierce clashes between Syrian government forces and rebel fighters erupted on Thursday in Douma, near the capital Damascus, while violence also raged in other parts of the strife-torn country, monitors said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime troops backed by tanks stormed Douma at dawn amid heavy gunfire and shelling.

The Britain-based group said clashes between soldiers and rebel forces were reported in various parts of the city, located some 13 kilometres (seven miles) northeast of the capital.

Plumes of smoke could be seen rising near the city's main mosque as troop reinforcements were sent in, the Observatory said.

Violence across the country has left at least 170 people dead so far this week despite a pledge by President Bashar al-Assad to implement a peace plan brokered by UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Two young men were killed in Kfar Sousa, a neighbourhood of Damascus early Thursday when security forces opened fire on their car, the Observatory said.

Activists added that troops were also in pursuit of several other young men in the neighbourhood.

Five soldiers were meanwhile killed in two separate attacks in the northern province of Aleppo and in southern Daraa, cradle of the revolt that broke out last year in March against Assad's regime.

Clashes were reported in several towns of Aleppo province, including Andan and Hritan where messages on loudspeakers urged regime troops to defect and join the opposition, the Observatory said.

Washington on Wednesday criticised the "intensification" of violence against opponents of the regime given Assad's pledge to implement by April 10 Annan's six-point peace plan.

"We've yet to be convinced that they have any intention of complying with the April 10 deadline," US State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.

The unrest in Syria has left more than 9,000 people dead since mid-March last year, according to UN figures.

More than 1,000 Syrian refugees fled to Turkey in the last 24 hours, bringing to nearly 21,000 the total number of people who have crossed to escape a deadly crackdown, a Turkish official said on Thursday.

"A total of 1,043 Syrians made their way to Turkey in a single day, marking the highest figure in recent times," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The revolt against the regime began as a popular uprising but has transformed into an insurgency many fear will lead to a full-blown civil war.


Coalition shoots down Yemen rebel missile near Mecca

Russia denies role in deadly air strikes on Syria school

Sisi promises to revise 2013 protest law

Kurdistan to renew push for independence once Mosul liberated

Unpaid Yemenis struggle to make ends meet

Saudi Aramco says ex-worker in Embraer bribe case

Turkey urges end to NATO mission in Aegean by end of year

UN says IS execute at least 232 people near Mosul this week

Rebels bombard regime in run-up to breaking Aleppo siege

US official calls for vigilance against IS refinancing

US says 4 Iranian arms shipments to Yemen stopped

Tunisia denies hosting US drone base

Up to 900 IS fighters killed in Mosul says US general

Experts warn recapturing Raqa more difficult than Mosul

EU approves new Syria sanctions, targets 10 top officials

Survivors of IS torture win EU's Sakharov rights prize

Almost 100 migrants missing off Libyan coast

Rebel attack on Aleppo school kills three children: state report

Russia denies striking Syria school

Erdogan says Turkish military operation will target Raqa

IS-linked militants abandon Somali port town

From IS slaves to global voices for Yazidis

Turkey orders arrest of 73 air force pilots

US Treasury chief says 9/11 law could have ‘serious implications’

Bloodbath in air strikes on Syria school

25 travelling on inflatable dinghy found dead in Mediterannean

Villages reclaimed, but return still distant for Iraqi Christians

Turkey says will clear Kurdish fighters from Manbij

Russia cancels warship fuel stop after pressure on Spain to refuse permission

US, UK expect Raqa offensive within weeks

Sudan's Bashir to appoint PM for first time since coup

Israel army says soldier wounded by gunfire on Lebanese border

Students among 22 dead as raids hit Syria school

Israel charges 13 Jews with celebrating murder of Palestinians

Revolutionary Guards commander says Iranian firms should lead oil projects

Egyptian officer accidentally shoots dead Israeli teen

IS members ‘shave beards’ as Iraqi forces approach Mosul

US praises Qatar moves to deny jihadists funds

Clashes between protesters, police in Diyarbakir after Turkey arrests mayors

Saudi financial position strong despite oil prices says minister

Iran develops 'suicide drone'

Egypt rolls out austerity programme

Iran calls for more Asian investment

Top US general visits airbase in fight for Mosul

UN envoy to Yemen presents peace proposal to Huthis