BBC World News & PressTV – 2011-06-13 13:17:09
Syria: Jisr al-Shughour Displaced await Next Army Move
BBC World News
(June 12, 2011) — Hundreds of Syrians have been massing on the northern border with Turkey, preparing to cross over if the army advances further into the area after seizing the town of Jisr al-Shughour. Syrian military sources have told the BBC the army plans to move on the nearby town of Maarat al-Numan. It says it is pursuing armed men who escaped the weekend offensive. State media said there was heavy fighting.
Turkey has already taken in thousands of refugees from northern Syria. The government said it was trying to restore order after 120 security personnel were killed in Jisr al-Shughour last week. Residents say they died after a mutiny and fighting between security forces.
Syria has prevented most foreign journalists from entering the country, making it difficult to independently verify reports from there.
Watching and Waiting
The BBC’s Owen Bennett-Jones, who is on the Turkish side of the border with Syria, says more than 5,000 refugees have registered with officials. However, another 5,000 have entered the country unofficially, he says, while hundreds more are massed at the border, waiting for the army’s next move. Many of them are reluctant to abandon their vehicles or livestock, our correspondent says, and will only cross if the army advances into the area. Others are waiting for relatives.
Human rights activists and residents said troops began bombarding Jisr al-Shughour early on Sunday. Helicopter gunships were also seen hovering overhead. But speaking to the BBC, an army general denied any shelling. The troops were only after those responsible for the killings of security personnel earlier this week, the general insisted. The army has now taken control of the area.
A BBC Arabic correspondent embedded with the Syrian military says tanks and armored vehicles have taken up positions inside the town. Buildings still bear the marks of clashes, and wheat fields have been burned. However, state media report that only two “armed members of terrorist gangs” were killed in the offensive, while the army says one soldier was killed and four wounded.
A military spokesman told our Arabic correspondent that armed men from Jisr al-Shughour who fled to Maarat al-Numan would be dealt with in a military operation in the next few days.
Separately, the bodies of 10 security personnel were recovered from a mass grave. Correspondents who witnessed the exhumation said four had been beheaded, and most of the bodies were riddled with bullet wounds.
There are continuing but unverifiable reports of army defections, with the latest saying an officer and 50 men had changed sides rather than fire on civilians in Jisr al-Shughour.
‘Forced to Flee’
US officials say the crackdown has created a humanitarian crisis, and called for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to be given access to Syria. “No-one is aware of the real magnitude of the problem and this is a big issue, because it does not allow us to know the size of the problem and then to act accordingly,” ICRC spokesman Hicham Hassan told the BBC.
On the Turkish side, two camps are already full of refugees and a third is filling up rapidly.
“The situation is grim. People were forced to flee with a few possessions. We are relying on the Turkish authorities for everything,” Mohammed, one of those in the border area, told the BBC. “No-one knows when it will be safe to return to our homes. When we return, people expect to find their homes destroyed and bodies unburied.”
Protests against President Assad, who succeeded his father Hafez in 2000, began in mid-March and have spread across the country. Human rights groups say more than 1,200 people have been killed in the crackdown.
TEHERAN (June 13, 2011) — The US and Israel have so far carried out a number of plots in Syria to incite unrest, create insecurity and spark a civil war in the Arab nation. At the outset, the White House and the Tel Aviv regime provoked anti-government protests in Syria’s southern city of Daraa near the border with Jordan.
There is now clear evidence that weapons, cell phones and terrorists from Jordan were transferred into the city to further complicate the situation on the ground, analysts say. The Syrian army began withdrawing its forces from Daraa in early May after arresting scores of heavily-armed people and confiscating large amounts of sophisticated weapons and ammunition.
The US and Israel then sparked revolts in the cities of Baniyas, located on Syria’s Mediterranean coast, and Talkalakh near the Lebanese border. Informed sources in Lebanon blamed Salafi extremists and elements associated with the country’s al-Mustaqbal party for direct involvement in the violence.
The Lebanese sources blame a retired general in charge of Mustaqbal’s maintenance and leaders of al-Qaeda-linked Fatah al-Islam militia for distributing arms and SIM cards among rioters in northern Syria.
Major Salafi clerics in north Lebanon have provided refuge for terrorists operating in Syria, and issuing provocative decrees. Salafi mosques in the region are reportedly being used to store weapons. The Syrian military ultimately succeeded in restoring calm to the area after scores of terrorists were arrested and their weapons were confiscated.
Violent clashes between armed groups and Syrian troops then broke out in the northern city of Jisr al-Shughour. At least 120 Syrian soldiers were killed after armed groups attacked police and security stations in the city on June 6, Syrian state television reported.
Syrian TV on Sunday evening broadcast photos of a mass grave containing mutilated bodies belonging to police and security forces that were killed by armed terrorist groups in Jisr al-Shughour. Marks of torture were visible on the bodies of the victims.
Reports say the terrorist groups behind days of deadly clashes in the northern city of Jisr al-Shughour have escaped to Turkey. Hundreds of Syrian civilians have also crossed the northern border into Turkey after the Turkish government announced that its doors are open to those seeking refuge.
The developments come as the US Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta recently visited the border between Syria and Turkey in a secret visit to Turkey. The United States and some regional countries support civil war in Syria.
Syrian army units on Monday restored security and tranquility to the city of Jisr al-Shaghour after clearing it from the armed groups that terrorized locals, attacked public and private properties, and wrought havoc in the city.
In the latest attempts, Washington and Tel Aviv are hatching plots to reignite the flames of unrest in Syria through smuggling weapons into the Arab country via the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. The Syrian government has repeatedly blamed foreign infiltrators and extremist groups for killing civilians and security forces, and creating chaos in the country. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has vowed to bring those behind the killings to justice.
Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.