‘Fierce clashes’ near Damascus as 58 killed in SyriaAgence France-Presse . Beirut
Rebel forces and Syrian army units engaged in deadly combat around elite Republican Guard posts in the suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday, as 58 people were killed across the country, a monitoring group said.
The death toll consisted of 24 soldiers, 30 civilians and four rebels.
‘Violent clashes are taking place around positions of the Republican Guard in Qudsaya and Al-Hama,’ eight kilometres from central Damascus, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights head Rami Abdel Rahman said.
Ten people were killed in shelling in Qudsaya, while another was killed by sniper fire in the neighbourhood of Jubar in the capital itself, where clashes also took place.
‘This is the first time that the regime uses artillery in fighting so close to the capital,’ Abdel Rahman said. ‘This development is important because it’s the heaviest fighting in the area and close to the heart of the capital.’
For their part, the authorities said regime forces clashed with ‘armed terrorist groups’ in Al-Hama, official news agency SANA reported.
‘The armed groups attacked citizens and law enforcement forces and blocked the Old Beirut road to use it as a smuggling route for weapons,’ SANA said.
The Observatory reported that five people, including a child, were killed in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, where several neighbourhoods came under army bombardment. Six civilians and two rebels were killed in the northwest province of Idlib, among them three civilians and one rebel killed in Khan Sabul.
In central Hama province, a rebel battalion commander and a defected officer were killed by rebels.
Elsewhere in central Syria, one person was killed in shelling on the Khaldiyeh neighbourhood of Homs.
Six people died in the southern province of Daraa, known as the cradle of the uprising. That included three killed during shelling on the town of Kafr al-Shams, which saw clashes as regime troops tried to gain control over the area. Another civilian was shot dead by troops in the northern province of Aleppo.
At least 24 soldiers were killed in fighting with rebels in the provinces of Deir Ezzor, Damascus, Idlib and Hama, and during an attack on a checkpoint in Idlib.
Turkey dubs Syria ‘a clear threat’, vows to retaliate
Turkey branded its former ally Syria ‘a clear and imminent threat,’ on Tuesday as its prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vented his fury over the downing of a Turkish fighter jet.
In his most outspoken criticism of the Damascus regime, Erdogan vowed to retaliate against the ‘heinous act’ and promised a change of military attitude to any Syrian officer approaching the common border.
‘The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed given this new development,’ Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament following.
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