Sat, Oct 06, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Syrian rebels say they captured Damascus base

Reuters, BEIRUT

Syrian rebels said they had captured an air defense base with a cache of missiles outside Damascus, a rare advance on the city after a series of opposition setbacks in the capital.

Rebel forces overran the base in the Eastern Gouta area, a few kilometers east of Damascus, on Thursday, according to videos posted on YouTube.

Across the country about 180 people were killed in violence on Thursday, including 48 government soldiers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

In New York, the UN Security Council condemned a cross-border mortar attack by Syrian forces that hit a Turkish village and demanded that such violations of international law stop immediately.

Turkish artillery bombarded Syrian positions on Wednesday and Thursday in retaliation, but the border area appeared to be quiet yesterday.

More than 30,000 people have been killed in the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, which began with peaceful street protests, but is now a full-scale civil war.

The video of the assault on the airbase showed dozens of rebels dressed in army fatigues celebrating as black smoke rose from a military installation behind them.

Turkey has made clear it is ready to launch retaliatory strikes again if the war spills over the border, but it has also said it will act under international law and in coordination with other foreign powers.

This week’s cross-border violence was the most serious so far in the conflict.

Five Turkish civilians were killed in the southeastern town of Akcakale by the Syrian mortar attack. The Turkish salvoes killed several Syrian soldiers.

Turkey’s parliament on Thursday authorized cross-border military action in the event of further aggression. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara would never want to start a war and the parliamentary vote was merely a deterrent.

Turkey is sheltering more than 90,000 refugees from Syria and fears an influx similar to the flight of half-a-million Iraqi Kurds into Turkey after the 1991 Gulf War.

The UN condemnation was issued after two days of negotiations on an initial text rejected by Russia.

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