'20 killed' in Syria border clashes
Israeli troops have battled hundreds of pro-Palestinian protesters who tried to burst across Syria's frontier with the Golan Heights, killing a reported 20 people and wounding scores more in the second outbreak of deadly violence in the border area in less than a month.
The clashes, marking the anniversary of the Arab defeat in the 1967 Middle East war, drew Israeli accusations that Syria was orchestrating the violence to shift attention away from a bloody crackdown on opposition protests at home.
The marchers, who had organised themselves on Facebook, passed by Syrian and UN outposts on their way to the front lines.
"The Syrian government is trying to created a provocation," said Israel's chief military spokesman, Brig Gen Yoav Mordechai. "This border has been quiet for decades, but only now with all the unrest in Syrian towns is there an attempt to draw attention to the border."
Human rights groups say President Bashar Assad's forces killed at least 25 people in northern Syria over the weekend, and another 65 activists were killed in the central city of Hama on Friday, as anti-government protests spread through the country demanding his resignation.
There was no Syrian comment on why the protesters were allowed to storm the border, apparently undisturbed by authorities.
But Syria's state-run media portrayed the event as a spontaneous uprising of Palestinian youths from a nearby refugee camp.
After nightfall, Syria's state TV said there would be an open-ended sit-in at the border, and thousands more protesters are on their way.