Rebels seize Syrian army outpost at Turkey border: witnesses

GUVECCI, Turkey Sun Oct 7, 2012 10:15am EDT

1 of 2. Turkish troops take their position at the Akcakale border gate in southern Sanliurfa province October 7, 2012, as a Syrian Independence flag waves at Syria's Tel Abyad border crossing in the background.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer (TURKEY - Tags: POLITICS MILITARY CONFLICT)

GUVECCI, Turkey (Reuters) - Syrian rebels have seized a government army outpost near the Turkish border province of Hatay and a rebel flag flew over the building on Sunday, while clashes could be heard in the area of a nearby Syrian village, a Reuters witness and villagers said.

The rebels took control of the three-storey white building, around 1 km (mile) from the border on a hill overlooking the Turkish village of Guvecci on Saturday, and raised the flag of the Free Syrian Army, villagers said.

"In the last four days there were heavy clashes going on here. We couldn't sleep. Yesterday morning, the Syrian army controlled this area. Now it is calmer," said villager Musa Sasak, 27.

Three mortar bombs fired from Syria landed near Guvecci village on Saturday, prompting a fourth day of retaliatory fire from Turkish forces. The Syrian mortar rounds hit empty land and there were no casualties.

The exchanges are the most serious cross-border violence in the Syrian conflict, which began as pro-democracy protests but has evolved into a civil war with sectarian overtones. They highlight how the crisis could destabilize the region.

Clashes could be heard on Sunday in the area of the Syrian village of Khirbet al-Joz, behind the hill where the military outpost was located. Smoke could be seen rising from the area.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels seized control of Khirbet al-Joz and the land around it late on Saturday after a 12-hour battle.

The British-based group, which monitors the violence in Syria through a network of activists across the country, said at least 40 Syrian soldiers, including five officers, were killed. Nine rebels fighters also died, it said. That death toll could not be independently verified.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan warned Syria on Friday that Turkey would not shy away from war if provoked in the wake of artillery fire from Syrian forces which killed five Turkish civilians further east at Akcakale on Wednesday.

NATO member Turkey was once an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad but turned against him after his violent response to an uprising in which, according to the United Nations, more than 30,000 people have died.

Turkey has nearly 100,000 Syrian refugees in camps on its territory, has allowed rebel leaders sanctuary and has led calls for Assad to quit. Its armed forces are far larger than Syria's.

(Additional reporting by Dominic Evans in Beirut; Writing by Daren Butler; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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Comments (3)
usa.wi.vet.4q wrote:
Too bad Russia and China like to support murdering criminals like Assad. Without these poorly run countries the people of Syria would no longer be suffering. Next stop us Iran!

Oct 07, 2012 10:48am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Slammy wrote:
:-)

Oct 07, 2012 11:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kommy wrote:
Syrian forces drove out a large group of rebels Aleppo

Dozens of jeeps drove the rebels on Saturday of the blocks and Sahhur Shaar towards bases and camps set up in the surrounding villages, reported news service publication “Al-Watan”.

According to her, the last stronghold of the militants was a suburb of Tariq al-Bab, through which the highway to the international airport. Further progress of army forces was impeded by overturned barricades of buses and trucks. Snipers firing from rooftops on military convoys.

Skirmishes continue in the old part of the city, where pockets of armed resistance remain near the Great Umayyad Mosque, the Antioch Gate and the labyrinth of medieval bazaars. On the outskirts of Aleppo forces attacked positions of the rebel group “Free Syrian Army” (PAS) in Anadane, Hareytane and Tall Rifaat.
From the highlands of Khirbet el-Josie (Idlib province), 2 km from the Turkish border, and from the mountainous region of Jebel Akrad, north from the port of Latakia, there were reports of heavy fighting between troops and Syrian mercenary soldiers. On both sides there are dozens injured, reports TV station “Orient ti-vi”.

In the industrial center of Homs on Saturday was defeated the last outpost of the armed opposition in the quarter Khalidiya, killed more than 160 militants. As the “Al-Watan”, yet at least 40 insurgents killed in crease in, located on the Damascus-Aleppo highway. In El Quseir, 30 km west of Homs, a large-scale operation to eliminate the opposition bases in border areas with Lebanon. There tucked armor and artillery, air attack position PAS Syrian Air Force helicopters.

Large government forces are concentrated in the south to block the penetration of capital fighters from the border with Jordan. In the Eastern Huta near Damascus, according to the news agency Surya al-Ain, a Syrian aircraft bombed insurgent in settlements Sheyfuniya, Otaya Nachabé and located on the highway in the outskirts of the Duma.

Special Forces soldiers surrounded and destroyed several groups of mercenaries from Libya, Tunisia and Afghanistan, which have penetrated there from the provinces of Idlib and Homs, the agency said.

Defense Minister Hong, General Fahd Jassem al-Freydzh, speaking on Saturday on national television on the occasion of the 39th anniversary of the October war with Israel, said that the armed forces of the Republic “are determined to restore peace and stability in all parts of Syria.”

According to him, the “brave Syrian army soon rid the country of foreign mercenaries, terrorists,” Al-Qaeda “, and other members of the Wahhabi extremist groups.”

Oct 07, 2012 11:44am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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