Rebels kill 14 Syrian soldiersReuters . Beirut
Syrian rebels fighting to oust president Bashar al-Assad killed six soldiers in the southern province of Deraa on Saturday and at least eight others in clashes on the outskirts of the capital Damascus, a monitoring group reported.
‘There were heavy clashes between Syrian forces and fighters from the opposition in (Deraa)... resulting in the death of at least 6 Syrian troops,’ the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in a statement.
‘At dawn, there were violent clashes in al-Ghouta (near Damascus), killing at least eight Syrian troops,’ it added.
The Observatory said that two civilians were also killed on Saturday, one during army raids in Damascus and one by gunfire in the central city of Homs, where activists say the army has been waging a shelling offensive on opposition districts.
The 15-month uprising shows signs of nascent civil war, with rebels saying they need to fight to protect civilians from being massacred at the hand of Assad’s forces and loyalist gunmen.
International peace envoy Kofi Annan warned on Saturday that Syria was slipping into ‘all-out’ war.
‘The spectre of an all-out war, with an alarming sectarian dimension, grows by the day,’ Annan told a meeting of members of the Arab League in Doha, co-sponsor with the United Nations of a peace plan aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim al-Thani of Qatar - which has backed arming Sunni Muslim insurgents fighting to topple Assad, a member of Syria’s minority Alawite sect - said Annan should set a time limit for his mission.
He also called on the U.N. Security Council to put Annan’s plan - based on a ceasefire that has yet to take hold, and that is meant to lead to a negotiated end to the Syrian crisis - under Chapter 7 of the U.N. charter, a measure that could authorise the use of force.
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