Syrian Army Raids Idlib as Outrage Mounts

إقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية W460

Syrian troops launched a vast operation on Wednesday in Idlib province bordering Turkey and killed at least one person, activists said, amid growing outrage over the regime's crackdown on dissent.

A defiant President Bashar al-Assad pledged to pursue a relentless battle against "terrorist groups," seemingly oblivious to the mounting international pressure to stop the use of deadly force against pro-democracy protesters.

His troops stormed the city of Sermin in Idlib, with an initial toll of one dead, Rami Abdel Rahman of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

"A woman was killed and three other people were wounded in the city of Sermin where Syrian forces launched a broad military campaign on Wednesday morning," he told Agence France Presse.

Abdel Rahman said earlier that security forces were using heavy machine guns in Sermin, leaving 10 wounded four of them in critical condition."

Explosions and heavy gunfire also echoed in the eastern oil hub of Deir al-Zour, Abdel Rahman said, adding that residents there fear a new military operation in the city where the army killed 42 people on Sunday.

"Tanks and troops carriers are cruising the streets of the Sheikh Yassin, Jbeileh and Muazzafeen neighborhoods," he added.

The authorities have blamed "outlaws," "saboteurs" and "armed terrorist groups" for the violence that has swept Syria since mid-March, while world powers have accused Syria of repressing violently pro-democracy protesters.

On Tuesday Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivered a message saying Ankara has "run out of patience," while his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Amr warned that Syria was "heading to the point of no return."

Brazil, India and South Africa have all stepped into the diplomatic fray, dispatching envoys to Damascus to seek a solution to the crisis and end the bloody crackdown that has claimed more than 2,000 lives since mid-March.

Amr was also due in Turkey on Wednesday after Davutoglu's visit on Tuesday when he asked Assad to end the bloodshed and implement democratic reforms.

"We hope that some measures will be taken in the coming days to end the bloodshed and open the way to a process for political reform," Davutoglu said.

As troops were reportedly deploying in Sermin, dozens of military vehicles packed with soldiers streamed out of the flashpoint protest hub Hama in central Syria after completing a 10-day operation.

An AFP correspondent saw the soldiers leave as she toured Hama with other journalists on a government-sponsored visit.

"The army units have gone back to their barracks after having accomplished their mission, and residents, happy to be rid of the armed gangs who tried to sow discord among the population, have returned home," a high-ranking army officer said.

Troops backed by tanks stormed Hama on July 31, on the eve of the start of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan, to fight "armed groups," killing 100 people in the single bloodiest day since the crackdown began, activists say.

The bloodshed triggered a deluge of international condemnation and prompted the U.N. Security Council, under pressure from European and U.S. leaders, to issue a statement demanding an end to the violence.

Russia, a traditional ally of Syria and armorer to Damascus, backed the statement after refusing to endorse a tougher formal resolution, and has since urged Syria to comply and engage in reform.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reaffirmed Moscow's position during a phone call with his counterpart Walid Muallem, stressing the "priority of ending violence and continuing efforts to conduct comprehensive political, social and economic reforms in Syria without delay," a statement said.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland highlighted the toughening U.S. and international stance.

"It is deeply regrettable that President Assad does not seem to be hearing the increasingly loud voice of the international community, a voice of concern that is now growing in strength, in volume and in number of countries making their views known," Nuland told reporters in Washington.

Gulf Cooperation Council nations Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait have all recalled their ambassadors to Damascus for consultations.

Al-Azhar -- Sunni Islam's top authority -- and the 22-member Arab League have also urged Syria to rein in the security forces, with al-Azhar saying the situation "has gone too far."

Overnight, some 2,000 people protested outside the Syrian embassy in Kuwait City to demand its envoy's expulsion and the "freezing" of relations with Damascus.

But Assad dug his heels in on Tuesday after meeting Davutoglu saying: "We will not waver in our pursuit of terrorist groups," state news agency SANA reported.

As he stood his ground, activists reported another 34 deaths on Tuesday, including 17 people killed by security forces in the eastern city of Deir al-Zour.

Comments 10
Default-user-icon Nazaret (Guest) 10 August 2011, 13:07

It is fun to read news from AFP. The announced that Deir Zor fell to Assad Forces.
Do you mean that Assad took a city outside of Syria? Or perhaps you mean that Syrian Army was fighting for 4 full days with PEACEFUL protesters ( especially so peaceful that were cutting hand of one of the policeman, whose head was sliced before?) do you mean that Syrian Army was there to restore order and law and crash them out of their nests those IKHAWANJIYE? I am sure many in Lebanon will wish this army comes back to clean Tripoli ( this what i read in many feadbacks here). Be careful when writing any article, people these days are not as stupid as you might imagine they are, it is much harder to brainwash them:)

Default-user-icon Bob (Guest) 10 August 2011, 13:11

Our hearts are with the Syrian people

Default-user-icon xen (Guest) 10 August 2011, 13:55

way to go syrian troops
kill them all
thumbs up

Default-user-icon Mousallem (Guest) 10 August 2011, 14:01

Bob's heart is with the Syrian people, especially the Sunni fundamentalists and crazies who have been calling for sending the Alawites to their coffens and the Christians to Bob's house in Beirut. Heart the people, you imbecile. The majority of the people are with Assad, you ignorant retard.

Default-user-icon Nazaret (Guest) 10 August 2011, 14:26

Well said Mousallem.. This what the world doesn't understand, that majority of Syrians are with Assad, including most of Sunnis. Only those fundamentalists that are making trouble and I am sure Syrians are happy to get rid of this crap

Default-user-icon Nazaret (Guest) 10 August 2011, 14:30

Well said Mousallem.. This what the world doesn't understand, that majority of Syrians are with Assad, including most of Sunnis. Only those fundamentalists that are making trouble and I am sure Syrians are happy to get rid of this crap

Default-user-icon Bekaai (Guest) 10 August 2011, 14:49

Nazaret ya ghabi...was Hamza elkhatib a sunni fundamentalist? Where were these thousands of fundamentalists during the pro-Assad demonstrations? In fact where were they for the past decades during the Assad regime's rule? Prove that the majority is with Assad...during the elections where the ballots are already filled out???

Default-user-icon Beiruti (Guest) 10 August 2011, 15:44

With diplomatic "pressure" like this, it is no wonder that the Assad Regime's assault on its own population goes on unabated. All of the demands are for the Assad Regime to initiate "reforms", there is no demand for Assad to be arrested for crimes against humanity or for his regime to go under due to its loss of legitimacy.
It has crossed a critical red line. A government does not arbitrarily turn its army against its own people and survive. Once a regime has engaged in that sort of conduct, there is no guarantee possible that it will not engage in the same thing again given the same circumstances. Witness only Hama 1982 and Hama 2011.
It is testiment to the impotency of the international community that conditions in Syria persist and that Syrian Arab life is deemed to be so cheap that it will take not 1, but 10,000 deaths before the world does anything to stop the bloodshed.
The issue is no longer national or sectarian, but a matter of human rights and our common humanity.

Default-user-icon Arzak Ya Libnan (Guest) 10 August 2011, 15:56

If most of the people are with Assad why did he never hold fair and true elections? what was he affraid of if they are truly with him and stand behind him? you are a true retard, and really do not deserve a reply, but since you are calling other retards i decided to call you out on it. Please xplain if there realy is "armed groups" wouldnt you want the media IN the country to show the world what is really happening? your mental capacity rivals a goat. evaluate things in that lump of shit in your head, where other people are lucky enough to have a brain. The syrian people are against Assad, and try as you might with your pathetic comments on Naharnet and other news sources, he will fall. And i hope he is tried in his country, if he has the balls to stay after that and not run away to iran(the only country that would take him) with the billions he is living off while his country men are starving. give me someone worth replying to.

Default-user-icon Vardashe (Guest) 10 August 2011, 17:31

Pursue these Sunni crazies all the way to Saudi Arabia and finish them all with their brothers, the Al Qaeda masters and pupils, too.