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Syria`s Escalated Violence

(DP-News - agencies)

SYRIA- Syrian government forces Thursday cracked down on suspected deserter hubs, opposition activists said, hours before an Arab League observer team was to arrive in the country. Despite the latest violence, the Arab League appeared to be going ahead with plans to send in its first delegation of monitors on Thursday.

Inside the country, state-run SANA news agency reported “Authorities in Daraa and Idleb countryside stormed dens of armed terrorist groups, arresting tens of wanted men who committed crimes of killing, attacked and sabotaged private and public properties.”



SANA indicated “The operation comes after investigations, pursuit and information received about crimes perpetrated by armed terrorists in the countryside of Daraa and Idleb.”

Official sources told SANA that following to clashes with members of those groups, a number of the terrorists have been killed and others wounded with big quantities of weapons, ammunitions, explosives and night goggles in addition to modern communication sets have been seized.



At the other side of the story, at least two civilians were killed in the shelling, the activists said.

“Syrian security forces have been shelling areas in the province of Idlib since the early hours of the day,” activists based in the area near the Syrian-Turkish border told DPA by phone.

DPA report said “More than 100 people were killed just outside the village of Kfar Owaid, about 30 miles from the northern border with Turkey in Syria's Idlib province on Tuesday. Government troops surrounded residents and activists in a valley and unleashed a barrage of rockets, tank shells, bombs and gunfire in an hours-long assault that one activist described as an "organized massacre."

In the central province of Homs, Syrian security forces made random arrests, they added.



Syrian activists have accused President al-Assad's regime of an "organized massacre" in Idlib. They said government troops advanced on a village in northwestern Syria, surrounded terrified residents in a valley and unleashed the barrage of rockets, tank shells, bombs and gunfire. Tuesday's hours-long assault, which killed more than 100 people, was one of the bloodiest days of Assad's crackdown against the nine-month popular uprising.

Members of Syria's opposition said the bloodshed outside the village of Kfar Owaid, about 30 miles from the northern border with Turkey in Idlib province, was evidence of the authoritarian leader's intent to intensify its crackdown on the uprising before the League observers arrive.



The death toll from two days of violence this week topped 200, including up to 70 army defectors killed near the city of Idlib, the activists concluded.

Early on Thursday, The activist group, the Local Coordination Committees in Syria, said six people were killed. It named four of those killed after what it described as "violent shelling using mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and heavy machine guns".



The news of the high numbers of dead and ongoing battles in the north came as an advance party of Arab League observers arrived in Damascus in a bid to implement an agreement signed by Syrian officials to stand down its troops and enter into talks.



Outside country, neighboring Turkey condemned the Syrian government Thursday, saying its policies were turning the country into a “bloodbath.”

The Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement the violence raised serious concerns about Syria's true intentions, and that no administration can be a winner in a struggle against its own people.

The statement follows similar comments Wednesday from the White House, which said it is only a matter of time before the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad comes to an end.



For its part, White House spokesman Jay Carney said fear is the only thing holding the Syrian government together, and that governments based on fear are always doomed.

Carney noted that military defections are on the rise, foreign diplomats are leaving their posts and supporting the opposition, and that some traditional Syrian allies, including the Arab League and Turkey, have turned against the country. Carney also said international sanctions are putting Syria under financial duress.



In turn, Russia's U.N. ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, says the Security Council will hold a second round of negotiations Thursday to “build consensus” on a Russian-sponsored draft resolution on Syria.



However, with the death toll now around 5,000 and December the bloodiest of the past nine months, President Barack Obama and European leaders appear to be recalibrating their responses. So far, moves to end the crackdown have stopped at imposing sanctions against key regime figures.

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