ALL OF THE border crossings between Iraq and Syria and at least one of Syria’s borders with Turkey have been seized by rebels.
Rebels also claimed to have seized part of the capital Damascus for the first time.
According to a report from Beirut in the New York Times four crossings between Iraq and Syria were seized and additional Iraqi troops were sent to the borders. It’s also reported that several Syrian Army soldiers were executed by rebels.
Syrians have been fleeing from Damascus to neighbouring Lebanon, while Iraqis also returned home before the borders were seized. The Iraqi government has said that it will send aircraft to the capital to bring its citizens home.
Video posted to YouTube appears to show rebels celebrating at the Syria-Turkey border at Bab Alhawa:
Uploaded by Cookie78ist
This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network purports to show a Syrian rebel stomping on a picture of late Syrian President Hafez Assad, father of Bashar Assad, at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
Yesterday President Bashar Al-Assad appeared on state television in Syria for the first time since a bomb killed some of his top lieutenants in an unprecedented attack.
Assad’s appearance Thursday was carried on state TV without audio, but the report appeared aimed at sending the message that he is alive and well, and in control.
The report said Assad, wearing a blue suit and tie, swore in the new defense minister and wished him good luck. The report did not say where the ceremony took place.
Meanwhile a top Chinese paper has today accused the West of seeking a green light for military intervention in Syria after Beijing and Moscow blocked a UN resolution threatening sanctions against Damascus.
The People’s Daily’s comments echoed those of Russia’s UN ambassador Vitaly Churkin, who said the resolution aimed to “open the path to the pressure of sanctions and further to external military involvement in Syrian domestic affairs.”
The defeat of the UN resolution leaves the 300-strong UN observer mission in Syria in limbo – just as the mission was forced to suspend operations because of the intensified fighting.
Its mandate, to monitor a cease-fire and implementation of international envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, expires today.
- Additional reporting by AP