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.

 

Bloodbath in Syria's eastern Ghouta

Two hardline Syria rebels announce merger

IS kills 25 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk

Sudan frees dozens of activists detained after protests

Saudi Arabia to host first Arab Fashion Week

Turkey considering chemical castration for child abusers

45 civilians killed in air strikes on rebel enclave

Cairo sheds Ottoman-era street names amid Egypt-Turkey crisis

New woes for Israeli PM in fresh graft cases

Maghreb countries wary about jihadists relocating from Iraq, Syria

Erdogan says Turkey will besiege Afrin "swiftly"

Turkey releases leading pro-Kurdish politician

5 Iranian police killed in Sufi protests

Iran finds wreckage of crashed plane on top of mountain

Israel’s gas contract with Egypt: deal or no deal?

Somalia appoints new police, intelligence chiefs

Iran plane crash rescue search halted for second night

France reaffirms commitment to Iran nuclear deal

Turkey warns Syria against protecting Kurds

Abbas warms up to Moscow amid cold US-Palestinian ties

Israel strikes 'historic' gas contract with Egypt

Are Iranian satellite channels aiding regime change?

Israel pounds Gaza with air strikes after rocket attack

Iraq orders deportation of French jihadist

Pro-Assad militias to enter Syria's Afrin

Three Egyptian soldiers killed in Sinai

Israeli, US officials meet over gas row with Lebanon

Iran's supreme leader says progress needed on justice

Syria Kurds claim striking positions in Turkey

Netanyahu warns Iran, brandishes piece of metal

66 feared dead as plane crashes in Iranian mountains

Saudi women to open businesses without male permission

Netanyahu slams 'outrageous' Holocaust remark by Polish PM

Israeli air strikes kill 2 in Gaza

Six suffer breathing difficulties after Turkish shelling in Afrin

Russian mercenaries - a discrete weapon in Syria

Iran protests ban on wrestler who threw bout to avoid Israel

Fears of expanding Syrian war could trigger peace deal

Battle to free Mosul of IS 'intellectual terrorism'

Turkey frees Garman-Turk journalist after one year without charge

Turkey hands life sentences to 3 journalists for Gulen links

Turkey, US agree to ‘work together’ in Syria

Thousands protest corruption in Tel Aviv amid PM indictment call

Prominent jihadist commander killed by rival Syria rebels

300 Russians killed in Syria battle last week