Syrian Army bombs Douma city
Beirut: The Syrian Army on Tuesday bombed the city of Douma near Damascus, intensifying its offensive against rebels.
Turkey meanwhile scrambled its warplanes after Syrian helicopters flew close to its border.
The Turkish armed forces command said the jets were scrambled on Monday when Syrian transport helicopters were spotted flying near the frontier, without entering Turkish air space. Turkey has scrambled its F-16s three times in three days.
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad earlier told a Turkish daily that he wished his forces had not shot down a Turkish jet last month and that he would not allow tensions with Turkey to lead to war.
"We learned it belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent `if only we had not shot it down`," Turkey`s Cumhuriyet daily quoted Assad as saying.
On Monday, a Syrian General and 84 soldiers defected and fled to Turkey. However, Army and government defections have not jolted Assad`s 12-year grip on power.
The President told Cumhuriyet he was not bent on staying in office come what may but gave no hint he was ready to quit.
"If my staying or going saved my people and country, why would I hold on? I wouldn`t even stay one day," he said.
"If the opposite is true, that is, if the people don`t want me, then there are in any case elections. If the people wanted, they would send me away," Assad was quoted as saying.
(With Agency inputs)
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