Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Mothers and children leaving Honduras at all costs

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

US journalist Peter Theo Curtis freed in Syria

Read more

WEB NEWS

"Ice Bucket Challenge" angers anti-abortion activists

Read more

ENCORE!

An art wonderland: A burnt-out piano, a bed in a box and a giant magic mushroom

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Historian Jean Garrigues: 'For the first time, Hollande knows what he is doing'

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

'Macron-economy' pun already worn out

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War

Read more

DEBATE

What Next for Gaza? Lasting Ceasefire Agreed After 50 Days of War (part 2)

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

New French economy minister signals changes to 35-hour week

Read more

  • Russian troops have entered Ukraine, says Kiev

    Read more

  • Assad cannot be partner in fight against terrorism, says Hollande

    Read more

  • Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie say ‘I do’ in France

    Read more

  • New Ebola case in Nigeria brings death toll to 1,552

    Read more

  • Video: 'Neither Baghdad nor the US can defeat the Islamic State'

    Read more

  • Platini will not run against Blatter for FIFA presidency

    Read more

  • Air France pilots announce week-long strike in September

    Read more

  • Erdogan's inauguration paves way for constitutional change

    Read more

  • New French economy minister takes swipe at 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Air France suspends flights to Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone

    Read more

  • Uzi shooting by 9-year-old rekindles gun debate

    Read more

  • Mother of American journalist asks IS leader for his release

    Read more

  • UN probe accuses Syrian regime, Islamists of ‘crimes against humanity’

    Read more

  • Uruguayans sign up to grow marijuana at home

    Read more

  • Missouri governor appoints black public safety director

    Read more

  • French unemployment rises 0.8% in July to record high

    Read more

  • Video: Iraq’s Yazidis flee to spiritual capital of Lalish

    Read more

  • Video: Milan is starting point for Syrian refugees’ European odyssey

    Read more

Middle east

Syrian artillery strikes northern Lebanon

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-07

Syrian artillery struck villages in northern Lebanon Saturday, killing three people, according to residents. The Syrian Observatory for Human rights said that Syria has been systematically trying to root out insurgents.

REUTERS - Syria’s conflict spilled further into Lebanon on Saturday when mortar fire from government forces crashed into villages in the north, killing two women and a man after rebels crossed the border for refuge, residents said.

In contrast with Turkey, which openly harbours rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanon was not expected to respond militarily and has played down the effect of regular clashes along the frontier.

But rebels have used north Lebanon as a base and Assad’s forces have at times bombed villages and even crossed the border in pursuit of militants, threatening to inflame tensions in Lebanon given a long history of Syrian domination there.

Residents of Lebanon’s Wadi Khaled region said several mortar bombs hit farm buildings five to 20 km (3 to 12 miles) from the border at around 2 a.m. At midday villagers reported more explosions and said they heard gunfire close to the border.

In the village of al-Mahatta, a house was destroyed, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding a two-year old and a four-year old, family members told Reuters. A 25-year-old woman and a man were killed in nearby villages, residents said.

The Lebanese army issued a brief statement about the incident. There was no immediate response from the prime minister or the foreign ministry, both of whom have expressed fears that Lebanon could be dragged into the conflict.

Turkey reinforced its border and scrambled fighter aircraft on several occasions last week after Syria shot down a Turkish warplane on June 22.

In Syria, the army bombarded towns across northern Aleppo province on Saturday in a concerted effort to root out insurgents who have taken control of some areas, the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The bombing is the heaviest since the start of military operations in rural Aleppo in an attempt to control the region after regular Syrian army forces suffered heavy losses over the past few months,” the British-based activist group reported.

It said three people had died, including two rebels.

The Observatory said many families had been displaced and water, electricity and medical supplies were running short.

Danger around Aleppo

Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city and commercial hub, has been largely spared of the violence. But the outskirts of the city and the wider province have seen rebels gaining territory since the uprising began 16 months ago.

Opposition activists say at least 15,000 people have been killed over that time. Assad says the rebels are foreign-backed terrorists who have killed thousands of army and police troops in hit-and-run attacks and roadside bombings.

Residents say rebels have set up checkpoints along roads in the Aleppo region and in some towns the army is confined to barracks.

The Observatory said 93 people, mostly civilians, were killed across Syria on Friday, when protesters took the streets to call for a “people’s liberation war.”

Opposition activists said they feared for the lives of the residents of Khan Sheikhoun after the army seized control of the rebel stronghold in the northern Idlib province on Friday in an assault with helicopter gunships.

On the diplomatic front, China on Saturday joined Russia in rejecting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s accusation that Beijing and Moscow have hindered efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria.

Any attempt to “slander” China was doomed to fail, it said.

Clinton had urged Assad’s international opponents meeting in Paris on Friday to make Russia and China “pay a price” for helping the authoritarian leader keep power in Damascus.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Clinton’s comments were “totally unacceptable”.

“Any words and deeds that slander China and sow discord between China and other countries will be in vain,” he said.

Diplomatic deadlock

Russia and China have repeatedly used veto power at the U.N. Security Council to block international attempts to persuade Assad to leave power to make way for a democratic transition in the pivotal Arab country.

They say they are committed to the peace plan of U.N. envoy Kofi Annan that proposes national dialogue. U.N. peace monitors effectively gave up on their mission last month after just weeks in Syria as it became clear there was no peace to monitor.

News on Friday that one of Assad’s personal friends had defected and was headed for exile in France was hailed by Clinton as proof that members of the Damascus leadership were starting to “vote with their feet” and leave a sinking ship.

Manaf Tlas, a Republican Guard brigadier and son of the longtime defence minister under Assad’s father Hafez, has yet to surface abroad or clearly to throw his lot in with the rebels.



But his desertion, leaked by family friends, was confirmed by the French government, giving a boost to the “Friends of Syria” conference it hosted in Paris.

Western powers and Sunni Muslim Arab rulers opposed to Assad, whose minority Alawite sect - an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam - has dominated Syria’s power structure for decades, agreed to “massively increase” aid to the Syrian opposition.

Deadlock in global diplomacy has left the Western powers trying to give an impression of momentum growing against Assad, holding a series of meetings, trumpeting defections and piling psychological pressure on Assad’s ruling elite.

Tlas and his father Mustafa, who friends said left for Paris some months ago claiming medical problems, were rare faces from Syria’s Sunni majority in the Alawite-led ruling clique. Their flight may show Assad is losing support among wealthier Sunnis.

It also suggests the Tlas clan, whatever moral scruples friends say were their prime motive for abandoning their friend and patron, has seen the writing on the wall for Assad’s rule.

Thousands of families have fled their homes in the past two weeks due to heavy fighting between government forces and rebels and many face food shortages, the United Nations said on Friday.

Late on Friday, about 300 refugees, including about 30 military personnel, crossed into Turkey at the border at Bukulmez in Hatay province, according to a Reuters cameraman.

 

 

Date created : 2012-07-07

  • SYRIA

    Army targets rebel bastions as UN demands free access

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syria's new opposition leader calls for mass defection

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syrian opposition elects Kurd activist as leader

    Read more

COMMENT(S)