Tuesday 9 October 2012

October 9, 2012 by  
Filed under News, Syrian Revolution

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights: Final death toll for Tuesday 9/10/2012.
More than 200 Syrians were killed yesterday: The dead include: 102 unarmed civilians (9 children) , 43 rebel fighters, 3 defected soldier and no less than 51 regime forces.  102 Unarmed Civilians:

- In Reef Dimashq province 39 were killed. 1 was tortured to death after detainment by regime forces in the al-Hama town. 1 was shot by unknown gunmen in the Qara town. 1 died of wounds he received 3 days ago by bombardment on the Harasta city. 6 civilians, including a woman, were killed by bombardment on the towns of A’rtouz, Harasta, Kafrbatna and al-Dmeir. 6 civilians, including a woman, were killed by bombardment on the Douma city. A woman was killed when her bus was targeted on the Dmascus road. 5 were shot by regime forces in the towns of A’qraba, Haroush, Saqba, Basima and Hteitet al-Turkman of Reef Dimashq. At least 12 unidentified corpses were found in the fields of Daraya, corpses seem as though they have been dead for more than days or weeks. 5 were killed by the military operation on the Deir al-A’safir town that lasted for days. An unidentified corpse was found in the Babila town of Reef Dimashq, traces of torture were evident on the body.

- In Aleppo province 37 were killed (29 in the city of Aleppo). 2 unidentified corpses were found in the Aghir neighbourhood of the city. 2 were shot by unknown gunmen in the al-Hal market, Aleppo city. 22 civilians (4 children, 2 women, 3 unidentified corpses and 13 men) were killed by bombardment on the neighbourhoods of al-Sakhour, Tariq al-Bab, al-Marja, al-Heidariya, al-Sha’ar, Aqioul, al-Sheikh Maqsoud, Bab al-Hadid and several other neighbourhoods of Aleppo city. 3 were shot by sniper fire in the neighbourhoods of al-Jamiliya and Seif al-Dawla of Aleppo city. A child died of wounds received yesterday by bombardment on the Akhtrin town. 2 civilians were found in the Bianoun town. 1 was killed by bombardment on the al-Sfeira town of Reef Aleppo. 4 civilians, including 2 women, were killed when their bus was targeted on the A’frin-A’ndan road.

- In Idlib province 7 were killed. 6 civilians, including a woman and child, were killed by bombardment on the M’aret al-Nu’man city. 1 was shot by sniper fire in the Hantoutin town of Reef Idlib.

- In Homs province 8 were killed. 6 civilians, including a woman and 3 children, were killed by bombardment on the al-Rastan area of Reef Homs. 1 was killed by a mine explosion in the al-A’tfiya village. 1 was shot by pro regime militants in the al-Hamrat village of Reef Homs.

- In Hama province 9 were killed. A young man from the al-Samra village of Reef Hama was shot by pro regime militants. 1 was shot by regime forces in Wadi al-Joz. 3 were shot by regime forces in the city. 2 from the Qastoun town were shot by a military checkpoint in Reef Hama.

- In Deir izzor province a civilian was killed by bombardment on the city of Deir Izzor.

- In Latakia province a civilian was killed by bombardment on the Rabi’a village of Reef Latakia.

- In Dera’a province 2 were killed. 1 was shot by regime forces in the al-Karak al-Sharqi town of Reef Dera’a. 1 from the Tal Shehab town was tortured to death after detainment by regime forces.

- In Damascus province 3 were killed. 1 from the Dummar neighbourhood was tortured to death after detainment by a regime checkpoint. 2 were shot by pro regime militants in the al-Qaboun neighbourhood of Damascus city.

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43 Rebel Fighters:

- In Reef Dimashq 9 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel fighter was killed by bombardment. 2 rebel fighter were killed during clashes with regime forces in the towns of al-A’bada and al-Ghouta al-Sharqiya. A rebel fighter was killed by bombardment and clashes in the Douma city. 5 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces after they stormed the al-Mqeilbiya town.

- In Aleppo province 7 rebel fighters were killed. 4 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Aleppo city.

- In Idlib province 16 rebel fighters were killed. 1 was killed during clashes with regime forces in Jusr al-Shughour. 3 were killed during clashes and bombardment on the Darkoush village. 12 were killed during the ongoing clashes in the M’aret al-Nu’man city.

- In Homs province 2 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the al-Wa’er neighbourhood of Homs city. A rebel fighter from the al-Qreitin town was killed during clashes with regime forces in Reef Dimashq.

- In Hama province 2 rebel fighters were killed. A rebel fighter from the Abi al-Fida’ suburb was killed during clashes with regime forces in the M’aret al-Nu’man city of Reef Idlib. A rebel fighter was shot by a military checkpoint on the Halfaya road.

- In Deir Izzor province 3 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Deir Izzor city.

- In Latakia province 3 rebel fighters were killed. 1 died of wounds he received earlier during clashes with regime forces in the Blouran village of Reef Latakia. 2 rebel fighters were killed during clashes with regime forces in the Jabal al-Turkman.

- In Dera’a province a rebel fighter was killed during clashes with regime forces in the Kafrshams town.

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- 3 defected soldiers, including a rebel commander, were killed during clashes with regime forces in Deir Izzor, Dera’a and Aleppo.

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- The SOHR was able to document an additional 20 deaths. 15, including 2 defected soldiers, were found dead yesterday in a detention center in M’aret al-Nu’man city of Reef Idlib. 5 were killed by bombardment on the Deir Izzor province.

- Reports indicate that 5 corpses were found in the Bianoun town of Reef Aleppo and 8 unidentified corpses in the Deir al-A’safir town of Reef Dimashq.
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- At least 51 regime forces, including a lieutenant colonel, were killed by IED explosions on vehicles and clashes in several Syrian provinces, 9 in Reef Dimashq, 8 Aleppo, 3 Deir Izzor, 6 Dera’a, 10 Homs , 10 Idlib and 6 in Latakia.


NOW! Lebanon
[local time]
  21:43 An AFP feature story describes how the wounded are rushed to Aleppo’s Dar al-Shifa Hospital as fighting rages in the city.
 21:18 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 135, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 18:55 Up to 400 Syrians from around the rebel-held central town of Qusayr have fled for neighboring Lebanon in the past 24 hours, a Lebanese security official said on Tuesday.
 18:31 President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday appointed Sattam Jadan al-Dandah as Syria’s new ambassador to Iraq, the official SANA news agency reported. He replaces Nawaf Fares who defected in July.
 18:24 The first formal camp inside Syria for civilians driven from their homes by the nearly 19-month conflict began admitting displaced families on Tuesday, an AFP correspondent reported.
 17:48 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has increased to 106, Al-Arabiya quoted activists as saying.
 17:04 Syrian rebels took control Tuesday of Maaret al-Numan, a strategic Idlib province town on the highway linking Damascus with second city Aleppo, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
 16:04 Turkey warned Syria again on Tuesday that it would not hesitate to retaliate for any strike on its soil as the country’s top military commander visited troops stationed at the reinforced border.
 15:10 Tuesday’s death toll has increased to 77, Al-Jazeera quoted activists as saying.
 14:42 Syrian troops entered the rebel district of Khaldiyeh in the besieged central city of Homs on Tuesday, state television said.
 13:55 Tuesday’s death toll in Syria has risen to 65 people, most of them killed in Damascus and Aleppo, Al-Jazeera television quoted activists as saying.
 12:22 UN chief Ban Ki-moon demanded on Tuesday that the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regime declare a unilateral truce, AFP reported.
 12:03 Dozens were killed in double suicide blast that stuck near Damascus, AFP reported activists as saying.
 11:02 Thirty-one people were killed in Syria on Tuesday, most of them in Damascus, activists said.
 10:26 Twenty-five burned bodies of unknown identity were found in an area between Daraya and Al-Qadam in Damascus, activists reported.
 8:48 Syrian warplanes are shelling the Edleb town of Maarat al-Naaman amid clashes between rebels and regime forces, Al-Jazeera reported.
 8:21 A Syrian activist has accused Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah of involvement in the fighting raging in violence-torn Syria, saying its fighters were “disguised” as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.

Reuters: NATO makes plans to back Turkey over Syria spillover

HACIPASA, Turkey – NATO said it had drawn up plans to defend Turkey if necessary should the war in Syria spill over their border again as dozens of people were killed across the Arab nation on Tuesday. | Video

Fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces could be heard from this Turkish border town following on from several days of clashes in the past week. One Syrian villager said a rebel push on the town of Azmarin was expected soon.

In Damascus, rebel suicide bombers struck at an Air Force Intelligence compound used as an interrogation centre – the latest attack to bring the conflict close to President Bashar al-Assad’s power base.

“Assad…is only able to stand up with crutches,” Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told a meeting of his ruling AK Party. “He will be finished when the crutches fall away.”

Erdogan, reacting to six consecutive days when shells fired from Syrian soil have landed on Turkish territory, has warned Ankara will not shrink from war if forced to act.

But his government has also stressed it would be reluctant to mount any big operation on Syrian soil and then only with international support.

It was not clear whether the shells hitting Turkish territory were aimed to strike there or were due to Syrian troops overshooting as they attacked rebels to their north.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in Brussels the 28-member military alliance hoped a way could be found to stop tensions escalating on the border.

“We have all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary,” he said.

Elsewhere in Syria, rebels took control of the town of Maarat al-Nuaman, which lies on the main north-south highway in the northern province of Idlib, after a 48-hour battle with soldiers, according to rebels and activists.

Video sent to Reuters, which activists said was filmed in Maarat al-Nuaman on Monday, showed dozens of fighters on a main street. Other footage purported to show fighters taking over a prison and army-held buildings in the town.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the violence, said 90 people had been killed so far on Tuesday, including 29 soldiers, compared to a death toll of 210 on Monday.

Activists estimated more than 100 dead or wounded in the bombing of the intelligence compound in Damascus.

The militant Islamist group al-Nusra Front said it had mounted the attack because the base was used a centre for torture and repression.

“Big shockwaves shattered windows and destroyed shop facades. It felt as if a bomb exploded inside every house in the area,” said one resident of the suburb of Harasta, where the compound was located.

The sharp rise in casualties in the past month indicates the growing intensity of the war, which developed from peaceful protests against Assad in March 2011 into a full-scale civil war.

An estimated 30,000 people have been killed as main cities such as Aleppo, Homs and the capital itself are savagely contested.

U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will go to Syria soon to try to persuade the Assad government to call an immediate ceasefire.

ON THE BORDER

In the border area, there was no sign of any breakthrough by either side though activists said rebels killed at least 40 soldiers on Saturday in a 12-hour battle to take the village of Khirbet al-Joz.

Just outside Hacipasa, nestled among olive groves in Turkey’s Hatay province, the sound of mortar fire could be heard every 10 to 15 minutes on Tuesday from around the Syrian town of Azmarin. A Syrian helicopter flew over the border.

Villagers used ropes and boats to ferry the wounded across a river into Turkey.

Rebels with AK-47s slung over their shoulders carried an Free Syrian Army officer down to the river bank on the Syrian side, using a carpet and two poles as a makeshift stretcher.

He had been shot in the chest and had a chest drain and drip attached. The rebels said they had dealt with roughly 20 wounded people and two dead on Tuesday.

The seriously wounded are ferried across to Turkey, while those less severely hurt are patched up at a makeshift first aid centre on the river bank and sent back into Syria.

Musana Barakat, 46, an Azmarin resident who makes frequent trips between the two countries, pointed at plumes of smoke in the distance and said Assad’s troops were burning houses there.

“There are rebels hiding in and around the town and they are going to make a push tonight to drive Assad’s forces out,” he said, a Syrian passport sticking out of his shirt pocket.

A crowd gathered around a saloon car, the blood-stained body of a man who had been pulled wounded from the fighting slumped across its back seat. Those with him said he had been rescued alive but died after being brought over the border.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Monday the “worst-case scenarios” were now playing out in Syria and Turkey would do everything necessary to protect itself.

Gul and Erdogan, in seeking Western and Arab support, have repeatedly warned of the dangers of fighting in Syria spilling over into a sectarian war engulfing the entire region.

Turkey’s chief of general staff, General Necdet Ozel, flew by helicopter to several bases in Hatay province on Tuesday, part of Turkey’s 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria.

The shelling of the Turkish town of Akcakale last Wednesday, which killed five civilians, marked a sharp escalation.

Turkey has been responding in kind since then to gunfire or mortar bombs flying over the border and has bolstered its military presence along the frontier.

“We are living in constant fear. The mortar sounds have really picked up since this morning. The children are really frightened,” said Hali Nacioglu, 43, a farmer from the village of Yolazikoy near Hacipasa.

Unlike the flat terrain around Akcakale, the border area in Hatay is marked by rolling hills with heavy vegetation. Syrian towns and villages, including Azmarin, are clearly visible just a few kilometers away.

“It’s only right that Turkey should respond if it gets fired on but we really don’t want war to break out. We want this to finish as soon as possible,” said Abidin Tunc, 49, a tobacco farmer also from Yolazikoy.

Turkey was once an ally of Assad but turned against him after his violent response to the uprising. It has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has given sanctuary to rebel leaders and has led calls for Assad to quit.

(Additional reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Amman, Adrian Croft in Brussels, John Irish in Paris; Mariam Karouny in Beirut, Writing by Nick Tattersall,; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Michael Roddy)

Up to 335,000 people have fled Syria violence: UNHCRABU DHABI – Up to 335,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations, ten times more than in March, but the real figure could be as high as 500,000, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Tuesday.

The UNHCR said last month that up to 700,000 refugees may flee the violence in Syria by the end of the year, four times higher than its June prediction.

Most of those fleeing are taking refuge in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Some Syrians are relying on their own resources and do not declare themselves as refugees. Many are reluctant to register as they worry it could impact the safety of family still inside Syria, Panos Moumtzis, Regional Refugee Coordinator at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

The international community has donated $141.5 million since March in response to appeals by U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, but this is only a third of the estimated amount required to cover basic needs of Syrian refugees, he said.

“The humanitarian support … does not match the speed at which the situation is unfolding,” he said.

Moumtzis and Radhouane Nouicer, the U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, were in the Gulf Arab region to meet with officials and aid organizations in order to streamline relief efforts, he said.

“These countries are extremely generous in their funding, but we just want to sit down with them and find ways to be more coordinated, to avoid duplication and so on,” Moumtzis said.

Nouicer said the number of Syrians displaced inside the country was estimated at 1.2 million, but that was expected to rise as the fighting intensifies.

“We don’t have accurate information on what is happening in Aleppo at the moment as parts of the city are not accessible to us,” he said. “But once the situation there stabilizes the number of displaced is likely to increase.”

(Reporting By Raissa Kasolowsky, editing by Diana Abdallah)

U.N. Syria envoy to go to Damascus to seek ceasefirePARIS – U.N. special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi will visit Syria soon to try to persuade Bashar al-Assad’s government to call an immediate ceasefire in an 18-month-old conflict with rebels, U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday.

Efforts by Brahimi’s predecessor, Kofi Annan, to engineer a truce collapsed within days, with neither the Damascus government nor opposition forces willing to abide by conditions for an effective cessation of hostilities.

Brahimi is to meet Assad as fighting rages in Syria’s biggest city Aleppo and government forces pursue offensives to dislodge rebels from provincial bastions elsewhere, causing increasing spillover into neighboring countries especially Turkey, prompting Ban to warn against the danger of escalation.

“Brahimi is now going to the region again and he will visit several countries and after that he will visit Syria,” Ban told a news conference along with French President Francois Hollande after the two met in Paris.

Ban said Brahimi aimed to curb the bloodshed and negotiate a deal to allow more humanitarian aid into Syria, where a civilian protest movement has evolved into an armed insurgency and one million people have been driven from their homes.

“First and foremost, the violence must be stopped as soon as possible,” Ban said. Diplomats said Brahimi would first visit Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, all regional diplomatic heavyweights, for consultations before heading to Damascus.

Brahimi’s spokesman Ahmad Fawzi later clarified that Brahimi’s initial swing through other countries meant his trip to Syria would not happen this week. He declined to give details of Brahimi’s itinerary for security reasons.

In September, his first month on the job, Brahimi met Assad in Damascus and visited Syrian refugee camps in Turkey and Jordan. The U.N. envoy said afterwards that he had a “few ideas” but no full plan on how to defuse the conflict, which he described as “extremely bad and getting worse”.

On Monday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul warned that “worst case scenarios” were playing out in Syria as Turkey’s army fired shells over the border for the sixth day running in response to shelling from the Syrian side. Northern Syria near the Turkish border has seen heavy fighting in the civil war.

LEERY OF UNILATERAL CEASEFIRE

Asked how Assad reacted to calls for a ceasefire, Ban said he had conveyed a “strong message” for a unilateral truce.

“Of course, their reaction was what will happen if they do it and the opposition forces continue (to fight)?” he said.

Ban said he was discussing how to provide assurances to both rebels and the government in talks with the U.N. Security Council and countries in the region. “I am getting positive support from the key countries,” he said.

He repeated a call for those countries providing weapons to both sides to stop. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey have backed the rebels, while Assad’s main allies are Iran and Russia.

Turkey has bolstered its military presence along the 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria and responded in kind to gunfire and shelling coming from the south, where Assad’s forces have been battling insurgents holding swathes of territory.

Hollande, among the most outspoken Western critics of Assad, said he would push for more punitive sanctions against Damascus in hope of forcing the Syrian leader to the negotiating table.

“The difficulty we are facing is not linked to the U.S. election, but to the division at the U.N. Security Council to take immediate decisions that would be useful to the Syrian people,” he said.

Russia and China have vetoed Western-backed attempts to have the Council pass harsh U.N. sanctions aimed at isolating Assad.

Activists say more than 30,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Assad.

(Additional reporting by Tom Miles in Geneva; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Up to 335,000 people have fled Syria violence: UNHCR:  DHABI – Up to 335,000 Syrian refugees have registered with the United Nations, ten times more than in March, but the real figure could be as high as 500,000, a U.N. refugee agency official said on Tuesday.

The UNHCR said last month that up to 700,000 refugees may flee the violence in Syria by the end of the year, four times higher than its June prediction.

Most of those fleeing are taking refuge in neighboring Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey.

Some Syrians are relying on their own resources and do not declare themselves as refugees. Many are reluctant to register as they worry it could impact the safety of family still inside Syria, Panos Moumtzis, Regional Refugee Coordinator at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, told reporters in Abu Dhabi.

The international community has donated $141.5 million since March in response to appeals by U.N. agencies and humanitarian partners, but this is only a third of the estimated amount required to cover basic needs of Syrian refugees, he said.

“The humanitarian support … does not match the speed at which the situation is unfolding,” he said.

Moumtzis and Radhouane Nouicer, the U.N. Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for Syria, were in the Gulf Arab region to meet with officials and aid organizations in order to streamline relief efforts, he said.

“These countries are extremely generous in their funding, but we just want to sit down with them and find ways to be more coordinated, to avoid duplication and so on,” Moumtzis said.

Nouicer said the number of Syrians displaced inside the country was estimated at 1.2 million, but that was expected to rise as the fighting intensifies.

“We don’t have accurate information on what is happening in Aleppo at the moment as parts of the city are not accessible to us,” he said. “But once the situation there stabilizes the number of displaced is likely to increase.”

(Reporting By Raissa Kasolowsky, editing by Diana Abdallah)

BBC: Syria intelligence complex bombed

Syrian rebels carry out a bomb attack on an intelligence agency complex in Damascus, with one activist group saying dozens of people were killed.

Rebels have carried out a suicide bomb attack overnight on an intelligence agency compound in a suburb of the Syrian capital, Damascus, reports say.

The al-Nusra Front, a jihadist militant group, said explosives-filled vehicles had been blown up outside the Air Force Intelligence complex in Harasta.

Residents said there were several huge blasts, followed by fierce clashes.

One activist group said dozens of people were killed and expressed fears for the fate of the agency’s prisoners.

Human rights activists say hundreds of opponents of President Bashar al-Assad have been detained and tortured by Air Force Intelligence(AFI) across the country since the uprising began in March 2011.

AFI is seen by some as the elite agency of Syria’s intelligence empire.

Though smaller than Military Intelligence, in the past it has played a leading role in operations against Islamist opposition groups, as well as covert actions abroad, and has a reputation for brutality.

‘Citadel of repression’

“The fate of hundreds of prisoners being held in the basements of the [Air Force Intelligence complex] is still unknown” Rami Abdul Rahman Syrian Observatory for Human Rights

A statement issued by the al-Nusra Front said it had targeted the AFI “because it is one of the most notorious security divisions, and a citadel of repression whose extent is known only to God”.

The group, which has claimed to be behind a series of deadly bombings since January, said a vehicle packed with nine tonnes of explosives had been driven up to the AFI compound in Harasta and blown up.

Twenty-five minutes later, another al-Nusra Front fighter blew up a one-tonne bomb hidden inside an ambulance, targeting survivors, it added. The fighters then fired mortars at the complex, the statement said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a UK-based activist group, reported that several large explosions had shaken homes overnight in Harasta, as well as in the nearby suburbs of Jobar and Qabun.

The blasts were followed by violent clashes in several parts of Harasta, with government forces firing heavy weapons and mortars, it added.

SOHR head Rami Abdul Rahman told the AFP news agency that dozens of people had been killed in the suicide attacks.

“The fate of hundreds of prisoners being held in the basements of the [security complex] is still unknown,” he added. “The regime has not said a word about what happened last night.”

The SOHR is one of the most prominent organisations documenting and reporting incidents and casualties in the Syrian conflict. The group says its reports are impartial, though its information cannot be verified.

A Syrian official told the Associated Press that a suicide bomber had detonated a car bomb near the AFI complex, while pro-government al-Ikhbariya TV reported that the blast was followed by clashes.

‘Unbearable’ conflict

Elsewhere on Tuesday, government forces continued to attack rebel strongholds in the central city of Homs.

State TV reported that soldiers had secured large parts of the Khalidiya district and were now “pursuing the remnants of the terrorists”.

News of the violence came as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the Syrian government to immediately declare a unilateral ceasefire, and the opposition to abide by it.

“It is unbearable for the Syrian people to continue like this,” he told a joint news conference in Paris with French President Francois Hollande.

Mr Ban also called on countries to stop supplying weapons to both sides.

On Monday, the BBC found evidence that weapons intended for the Saudi military have been found at a base used by Syrian rebels.

The BBC’s Ian Pannell saw crates from a Ukrainian arms manufacturer – addressed to Saudi Arabia – at a rebel camp in the city of Aleppo.

Meanwhile, Nato Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said the alliance has “all necessary plans in place to protect and defend Turkey if necessary”, amid escalating tensions on its border with Syria.

Turkish and Syrian government forces have been exchanging artillery fire since Syrian shells killed five Turkish civilians last week.

Guardian: Syria crisis: bombs hit security complex – Tuesday 9 October 2012:

Follow the day’s developments after the Islamist al-Nusra Front claimed it bombed an intelligence complex near Damascus and the Syrian army advanced in Homs

 

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