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.

 

Egypt, France agree to step up cooperation against terrorism

Syria, Russia support UN in suspending Aleppo fighting

Pope to rebuild bridges with Islamic world in Turkey visit

OPEC meets for pivotal decision on oil output

Lebanese diva Sabah passes away

Powers to push for Iran nuclear deal before new deadline

Iraqi forces, tribesmen battle IS jihadists in Ramadi

Egypt jails 78 minors for pro-Morsi protests

US slams Assad regime for ‘continued slaughter’

Regime indiscriminate strikes kill scores in Islamic State 'capital' in Syria

Putin meets with Syria Foreign Minister in Black Sea retreat of Sochi

Britain rushes to fight terror with controversial bill

Gunmen kill 3 Egypt policemen in fresh terrorist attack

Iran lawmakers finally approve third Rouhani science minister pick

Turkey clears only suspect in alleged poisoning of former president

Huthis humiliate Al-Ahmar clan with capture of Sanaa headquarters

Christians hold out in Syria second city despite Daesh threat

Libya’s Derna emerges as new IS stronghold

Egypt to reopen Rafah border crossing Wednesday

Egypt leader begins two-day trip to France

Tribesmen blow up Yemen’s main oil pipeline

Russia trims oil output

UN chief calls for halt to Libya air strikes

Syrian air strikes on Raqa kill 63 civilians

17 killed in fatal Cairo building collapse

Egypt nabs five Salafist leaders

Essebsi leads Tunisia presidential vote

Paris pushing for 'safe zones' in war-torn Syria

New air strike hits Tripoli’s sole operational airport

Pentagon chief steps down

Saudi seeks to ‘knock out’ shale oil competitors from oil market

Death toll rises from Morocco flash floods

Yemen troops free 8 hostages from Al-Qaeda

Italy hails Egypt as 'strategic partner'

US Congress skeptical of Iran nuclear talks extension

Khartoum, Darfur rebels open ceasefire talks

Time runs out for biggest chance to resolve Iran nuclear standoff

Egypt leader heads to Italy

Morocco arrests six over online IS allegiance pledge

Iraqi forces retake areas near Iran border from jihadists

Southern Morocco storms claim eight lives

Marzouki, Essebsi set for runoff in Tunisia presidential vote

Biden wraps up Turkey visit without breakthrough on Syria

Sudan launches investigation into claims of 'mass rape' in Darfur village

Assad urges ‘real pressure’ on backers of 'terror'