BEIRUT (Reuters) – The first ambassador to abandon Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has called on the army to “turn your guns on the criminals” of the government, as troops swarmed into a suburb of the capital on Thursday to flush out rebels.
Nawaf al-Fares, who has close ties to the security services, was Syria’s ambassador to its neighbor Iraq, one of its few friends in the region.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon’s relief agency has suspended funding treatment for wounded Syrians who cross into the country, officials said on Thursday, citing rapidly rising costs as the conflict over the border escalates.
Local aid and medical workers said Lebanese hospitals would close their doors to wounded Syrians who were not in a critical condition. They have yet to determine where the wounded would be taken instead or who would pay for them.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Kofi Annan was holding talks in Damascus on Monday with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who said U.S. political support for “terrorists” was hindering the peace envoy’s plan to end 16 months of bloodshed.
Assad also accused Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey of supplying the rebels trying to overthrow him with arms and other logistical support.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrians in the ghost city of Douma have recovered mutilated corpses and sifted through trash for body parts hacked off by death squads who swept through anti-government districts after the army drove out rebel fighters, activists said on Wednesday.
Video shot by opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in the city about 15 km (10 miles) north of Damascus on Tuesday displayed gory horror scenes in homes they said had been overrun by pro-government “shabbiha” paramilitary gangs, after army shelling over the weekend forced rebel fighters to retreat.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrians in the besieged city of Douma wrapped mangled and bloodied corpses in white burial shrouds early on Friday, according to video posted online, after 190 people were killed in one of the deadliest days of Syria’s 16-month-old uprising.
Activists said more than 50 of those killed on Thursday died in Douma, about 15 km (9 miles) outside the capital Damascus.
BEIRUT/ISKENDERUN, Turkey (Reuters) – Rebel forces attacked Syria’s main court in central Damascus on Thursday, state television said, while Turkey deployed troops and anti-aircraft rocket launchers to the Syrian border, building pressure on President Bashar al-Assad.
A loud explosion echoed through the streets and a column of black smoke rose over Damascus, an Assad stronghold that until the last few days had seemed largely beyond the reach of rebels. State television described it as a “terrorist” blast.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian opposition groups will reject a political transition plan proposed by peace envoy Kofi Annan unless it explicitly requires President Bashar al-Assad to quit before a unity government is formed, a senior opposition official said on Thursday.
Diplomatic sources at the United Nations said Annan’s proposal, aimed at ending the 16-month conflict in Syria, does not stipulate Assad’s resignation although it does say the unity government could not include figures who jeopardize stability.
ANKARA/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu phoned world powers on Saturday to brief them about the downing of one of Ankara’s planes by Syria as a joint search for the airmen, who were shot down over the Mediterranean, tried to locate them.
Signals from both sides suggested neither wanted a military confrontation over Friday’s incident as the search focused its efforts near a Turkish province that hosts thousands of rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad.
ANKARA/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Turkey promised on Saturday to do “whatever necessary” in response to Syria’s shooting-down of a Turkish fighter, but did not immediately contest an assertion by Damascus that the jet had been in its airspace at the time.
The downing of the aircraft, at a point close to the sea borders of both countries, provided a demonstration of Syria’s formidable Russian-supplied air defenses; one of the many reasons for Western qualms about any military intervention to halt bloodshed in the country.
LOS CABOS, Mexico/BEIRUT (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed on Monday that the violence in Syria must stop but gave no sign of agreeing on how to do it even as Syrian security forces pounded opposition areas across the country.
Intense artillery fire was reported in Douma, a town 15 km (9 miles) outside the Syrian capital Damascus that for weeks has been under the partial control of rebels who have joined the 15-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad.