Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014 (part 2)

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - 29 August 2014

Read more

ENCORE!

Alain Choquette: A Hilarious Magician in Paris

Read more

FOCUS

France welcomes Iraqi Christian refugees

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Emmanuel Macron: A new economy minister with a pro-business agenda

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

More of this year's best Observers stories

Read more

#TECH 24

Changing the world, one video game at a time

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Socialist Party summer conference kicks off in explosive atmosphere

Read more

  • Exclusive: Fabius warns of further sanctions against Russia

    Read more

  • Experimental Ebola drug ‘ZMapp’ heals all monkeys in study

    Read more

  • IMF stands behind Lagarde amid French corruption probe

    Read more

  • Ukraine to relaunch NATO membership bid

    Read more

  • Suriname leader’s son pleads guilty to courting Hezbollah

    Read more

  • British killer escapes from French psychiatric hospital

    Read more

  • Chelsea’s Torres set for AC Milan switch

    Read more

  • Police hunt for British boy with brain tumour taken to France

    Read more

  • France shines in IMF list of world’s promising economists

    Read more

  • Mapping Ukraine: Canada and Russia in ‘tweet for tat’ row

    Read more

  • First case of Ebola confirmed in Senegal

    Read more

  • Obama has 'no strategy yet' on potential Syria strikes

    Read more

  • Netflix to woo French with ‘House of Cards’ set in Marseille

    Read more

  • French businesses ‘hoping for a new Thatcher’

    Read more

  • Syrian refugees surpass 3 million, UN says

    Read more

  • West backs Ukrainian claims of Russian incursion

    Read more

  • Libyan PM resigns as Islamists set up rival administration

    Read more

  • UN says 43 peacekeepers captured in Golan Heights

    Read more

  • The deleted tweets of Manuel Valls

    Read more

  • Peru seizes record 6.5 tonnes of Europe-bound cocaine

    Read more

Middle east

Northwest Syria town braces for army onslaught

Video by Lucy FIELDER

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-06-07

A large number of Syrian military vehicles were seen heading towards the northwestern town of Jisr al-Shughur on Tuesday, prompting fears of a major army offensive after the government vowed to retaliate for the killing of 120 policemen.

AFP - Syrian dissidents were Tuesday fearing a harsh backlash after the authorities warned of a forceful response to what they said was a massacre of 120 policemen in the town of Jisr al-Shughur.

A Turkish diplomat told AFP in Ankara meanwhile that one person died from gunshot wounds when 41 refugees fleeing unrest in Syria crossed the border into Turkey over the weekend.

"Scores of military vehicles loaded with soldiers are travelling on the Harasta highway... They are probably headed to Jisr al-Shughur for a new massacre... Please be careful," the Syrian Revolution 2011, an anti-regime Facebook group spurring protests, posted Tuesday.

It advised pro-democracy activists in areas facing a crackdown by security forces and "gangs of the regimes" -- especially in the northern Idlib province -- to parry potential assaults by "burning tyres" and "blocking roads with stones and wood."

The group, which plays a central role in setting the tone and theme of protests that erupted against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad mid-March, called for fresh protests on Tuesday.

It dubbed it a day "of resurrection."

"The time of treachery is over," the group wrote on its page which has garnered 199,700 supporters online.

"Our revolution is peaceful, we want freedom, dignity and life. We do not endorse any foreign party or organisation," the group wrote.

"We do not call to battle and refuse to bear arms against our brothers in the Syrian army. We call on them to protect us and defend us against the shootings by agents" of the regime.

State television said on Monday the policemen were killed by "armed gangs" but rights activists said there had been a mutiny in the northwest Syria town where security forces had been carrying out operations for three days.

"The armed groups are committing a real massacre. They have mutilated bodies and thrown others into the Assi river," the state broadcaster said. "They have burned government buildings."

It said a total of 120 police were killed, including 80 at the town's security headquarters, without specifying the date of the incidents in Jisr al-Shughur.

Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim al-Shaar warned in a statement read on television that the authorities would hit back.

"The state will act firmly, with force and in line with the law. It will not stay arms folded in the face of armed attacks on the security of the homeland," he said.

Two activists who spoke by telephone to AFP in Nicosia said the town was calm on Monday, and spoke of a mutiny at a local security headquarters, where shooting was heard the day before.

"I think they executed policemen who refused to open fire on demonstrators. There was a mutiny in the security service," one said.

The other told AFP that "shooting followed by an explosion was heard in the military HQ, apparently after a mutiny."

Monday's reports came a day after at least 40 people were killed, including 35 in Jisr al-Shughur, said the head of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman.

He said 27 civilians and eight security agents were killed in the town as security forces pressed sweeps targeting anti-regime protesters in Idlib province.

The Turkish diplomat said dozens of Syrians had fled across the border in southern Turkey's Hatay province at the weekend.

Around 20 of them had arrived with injuries and were treated in Turkey, the source said.

"A man with gunshot wounds died in an ambulance heading to a hospital in Turkey, after he crossed the border in a serious condition," the diplomat said.

Since May 20, 88 wounded Syrians have arrived in Hatay in separate waves, including 45 on Sunday and two on Monday, according to a humanitarian source close to the Turkish Islamist charity IHH.

In Washington meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said France and other western powers are ready to risk a veto by Russia at the UN over a draft resolution to condemn political violence in Syria.

The draft was drawn up by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal. It condemns violence at the hands of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and asks him to open Syrian cities to humanitarian teams.

Rights groups say more than 1,100 civilians have been killed and at least 10,000 arrested in Syria since anti-regime protests erupted in mid-March.

Damascus blames the unrest on "armed terrorist gangs" backed by Islamists and foreign agitators.

Foreign journalists are barred from travelling around Syria, making it difficult to report on the unrest or verify government and witness accounts.
 

Date created : 2011-06-07

COMMENT(S)