Syria unrest spreads, 63 killed
DAMASCUS / MOSCOW
Syrians pray at a cemetery in Tal Refaat village near Aleppo during the burial of 70-year-old Amina Ahmed Kabso, who was killed in the latest spate of violence. AFP photoViolence in Syria killed at least 63 people yesterday, nearly half of them troops who died in clashes with rebels, as the bloodshed reached new heights, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
At least 16 soldiers were killed in the northern Aleppo province, while one died in an attack on his vehicle in neighboring Idlib province and the rest died in fighting elsewhere in Idlib and in the provinces of Damascus and Deir Ez-zor in the east.
In Idlib province, 10 civilians died, including seven members of the same family killed in shelling in the town of Jericho, where clashes took place earlier. Thirteen people were killed in Deir Ez-zor, including three rebels shot by sniper fire, and a girl was killed by shelling elsewhere in the province.
“This is one of the bloodiest weeks in the conflict,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence France-Presse. According to the Observatory’s figures, 94 people were killed in Syria on Monday, 62 on Tuesday, 88 on Wednesday, 168 on Thursday, 116 on Friday and 116 on Saturday.
Russia insists on helicopters
In Amman, Jordanian Information Minister Sameeh Maaytah said yesterday that three other Syrian pilots had defected last week, even before a pilot flew his warplane into neighboring Jordan. He said the other three crossed overland into Jordan. He was unsure if the four pilots knew each other or had coordinated their escape from Syria.
Meanwhile, a ship carrying Russian helicopters to Syria, which turned back after its insurance was cut, is expected to resume its journey accompanied by at least one other vessel, Interfax reported yesterday, citing a military source.
The report is likely to reignite international criticism of Russia’s arms deliveries to Syria which U.S. officials have called reprehensible and the Arab League has said should be stopped. “A military-diplomatic source in Moscow told Interfax that (the ship) will go from Murmansk to Syria. According to his information the ship should travel under escort,” the news agency reported, according to Reuters.
The ship Alaed, which entered the Russian port of Murmansk yesterday to change its flag to the Russian Standard, will not be accompanied by military vessels, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.