Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Syrian tanks 'enter border village'

Turkish Red Crescent workers distribute free food to Syrians waiting near the Turkey-Syria border (AP)
Turkish Red Crescent workers distribute free food to Syrians waiting near the Turkey-Syria border (AP)

Syrian troops backed by tanks have entered a village along the Turkish border as the regime expands its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters, activists have said.

Thousands of Syrian refugees have been flooding into Turkey as the government tries to crush the three-month-old uprising.

The regime blames foreign conspirators and thugs for the unrest.

The Local Co-ordinating Committees, which track the Syrian protest movement, said tanks entered Khirbet al-Jouz and snipers were spotted on rooftops.

Syria has banned foreign journalists and restricted local media, making it nearly impossible to independently confirm the accounts.

AP journalists on the Turkish side of the border saw armed men near the village and an armoured personnel carrier on its outskirts.

Nearly 100 Syrians who were living in makeshift tents on the Syrian side of the border fled into Turkey as the village was surrounded and Turkey deployed guards along the frontier.

The opposition estimates 1,400 people have been killed and 10,000 detained in the Syrian crackdown, drawing international condemnation and sanctions.

On Wednesday, the Syrian regime lashed out at European governments for threatening a new round of sanctions and accused the West of trying to sow chaos and conflict in the Arab nation.

But foreign minister Walid Moallem also reiterated the president's call for national dialogue and spoke of democracy over the horizon - a bold assertion after more than four decades of iron-fisted rule by the family of President Bashar Assad and months of bloody reprisals.

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