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.

 

Saudi warns of 'disastrous consequences' over US 9/11 law

3,800 Syrian civilians killed by Russian strikes in one year

World leaders attend Shimon Peres’ funeral

UN warns 100,000 people trapped in South Sudan town

Bulgaria approves full-face Islamic veil ban

Jordanians rally against gas deal with Israel

Israel pays Turkey $20 million compensation for Gaza flotilla raid

Egypt MP suggests university virginity tests

Morocco to speed repatriation of citizens in Germany illegally

Turkey opposition leader condemns Erdogan’s ‘coup against democracy’

French jets set off to join action as battle for Mosul looms

Moroccan left hopes to offer 'third way' at polls

Renault signs Iran auto venture

Saudi border guard killed, 3 civilians hurt by shelling from Yemen

Turkey issues warrants for judicial, prison staff

MSF warns Syria, Russia to stop ‘bloodbath’ in Aleppo

Russia waiting to see OPEC freeze deal details

Police raid Casablanca market after rumours of sex dolls

UN warns 700,000 will need aid once Mosul offensive starts

Saudi seeks oil leadership in economic pinch

Egypt court suspends block on island transfer to Saudi

Bid for international Yemen war probe fails at UN

UN warns 'hundreds' in Aleppo need medical evacuation

Palestinian president to attend Peres funeral

King Abdullah visits home of murdered writer

Amnesty accuses Sudan of using chemical arms against Darfur civilians

Bahrain says 9/11 bill will harm US

9/11 bill puts US, Saudi cooperation in question

UN envoy says Syria talks 'very difficult with bombs falling'

Erdogan says Moody's was 'bought' after downgrade

Erdogan: Turkey may need state of emergency for more than a year

Iraqi activist wins Norway rights prize

Kidnapped German woman, baby freed in Syria

Turkey stops Kurdish TV broadcasts

A year of bombing in Syria triggers limited interest in Russia

Obama defends refusal to use military force to end Syria civil war

US Congress overrides Obama's veto of Saudi 9/11 bill

OPEC agrees deal to cut oil output

Palestinians react to death of Peres

Poverty takes toll in rebel-held Yemen fishing village

Kerry threatens to end negotiations with Russia on Syria

Kuwaiti court scraps petrol price hike

Iraq requests more US troops to take on IS in Mosul

Airstrikes hit hospitals in rebel-held Aleppo

Iran nuclear chief says not worried about Trump