Car Bomb Kills 50 Regime Troops in Syria as Air Strikes Pound Rebels
[An Nahar] Syrian rebels launched a devastating car kaboom Monday that killed 50 pro-regime fighters, a watchdog said, as air strikes pounded rebel positions and the opposition met for talks on an overhaul.
The suicide car kaboom on a military post in the central province of Hama struck early Monday, killing at least 50 government troops and loyalist militiamen, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"The post, located at the Center for Rural Development, is the largest gathering place for troops and pro-regime forces of Evil in the region," said the Observatory, a Britannia-based monitoring group.
Regime aircraft meanwhile continued to pound rebel-held positions around the country, with one air strike killing at least 20 rebel fighters in the town of Harem in the northwestern province of Idlib, the Observatory said.
The rebels have scored significant wins in recent weeks and hold swathes of territory in the country's north, but have come under intense bombardment from the air as Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir
Lord of the Baath...
's regime seeks to reverse rebel gains.
Clashes also broke out Monday around Damascus
...Capital of the last overtly fascist regime in the world...
and in Syria's second city Aleppo
...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins...
, and state television
... and if you can't believe state television who can you believe?
reported a car kaboom in the capital had left four dead and dozens maimed.
Fighting erupted in southern districts of the capital on the edge of the Yarmouk Paleostinian camp, the Observatory said, with Paleostinian sources saying 31 people had died from shelling at the camp on Sunday and Monday.
In Aleppo, fighting broke out at a roundabout at the northwestern entrance to the city in Zahraa district and on the airport road to the southeast, the Observatory and residents said.
One resident of a district near Zahraa said Monday's fighting in the area was the heaviest in recent days.
"It's been almost one week that we are living in terror at night. We hear everything -- shootouts, tank shelling, kabooms... The festivities before dawn today were the worst all week," Samir, a 37-year-old pharmacist, told Agence La Belle France Presse.
The Observatory said at least 105 people, including 55 soldiers and pro-regime fighters, had been killed in the violence on Monday.
The escalating conflict has added urgency to a meeting of the Syrian National Council in Qatar, where the United States is reportedly pressing for a new umbrella organization to unite the country's fractured opposition.
According to the reports, which emerged after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
... sometimes described as
America's Blond Eminence and at other times as Mrs. Bill, never as
Another Al Haig ...
said the SNC was not representative, long-time dissident Riad Seif is touted as the potential head of a new government-in-exile dubbed the Syrian National Initiative.
Seif on Sunday denied planning to head such a government, while SNC chief Abdel Basset Sayda denounced what he called "efforts to bypass the SNC".
At the talks on Monday, SNC members approved a restructuring project that will see the organization add 200 new members representing 13 different political groups, SNC front man Ahmad Kamel told AFP.
On Tuesday SNC members will hold a debate on a proposal put forward by Seif to create a new political body to represent the opposition, folding in the SNC and other anti-regime groups.
The SNC lashed out on Friday at alleged U.S. interference with the opposition, accusing Washington of undermining the revolt and "sowing the seeds of division" by seeking its overhaul.
On the diplomatic front, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused countries that support Syria's rebels of encouraging them to fight rather than pressuring them to negotiate an end to the conflict.
Russia, one of the Syrian regime's most influential foreign allies, held no sway over the rebels, Lavrov said at a news conference in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart Mohammed Kamel Amr.
Countries that do have influence over the rebels, among them some Gulf Arab states and Western powers such as the United States, should encourage them to "sit at the negotiating table," Lavrov said.
Instead, some of these countries prefer to "unify the rebels not on the basis of negotiations but on the basis of continuing the fighting," he said.
Lavrov met Sunday with Arab League
...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing...
chief Nabil al-Arabi for talks, after which Arabi said "there wasn't any agreement on anything" during the discussions.
Russia and China have stymied Western- and Arab-backed efforts to put more pressure on Assad's regime by blocking U.N. Security Council resolutions.
Posted by: Fred