Syrian troops, rebels clash near Turkey
Beirut: Syrian troops clashed with rebels near the border with Turkey on Friday in what appears to be the first serious violation of an internationally brokered ceasefire that went into effect a day earlier, activists said.
Despite the clash, there was still no sign of the widespread shelling, rocket attacks and mortars that were daily occurrences before the ceasefire went into effect at dawn on Thursday.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the clashes took place on the outskirts of the northwestern village of Khirbel el-Joz that borders Turkey. The group, which has a network of activist throughout Syria, said Army deployed tanks in the area before the clash.
Another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, also said that tanks were deployed near Khirbet el-Joz and were trying to storm a post run by the defectors who are known Free Syrian Army. The LCC reported "very heavy gunfire”.
Turkey's state-run Anadolu Agency said gunshots could be heard from the village of Uluyol in Hatay province, which is across the border from Khirbet el-Joz.
President Bashar Assad's forces had halted heavy shelling and other major attacks in line with the truce, though there were accusations of scattered violence by both sides on Thursday. The government has ignored demands to pull troops back to barracks, however, defying a key aspect of the plan, which aims to calm a year-old uprising that has killed 9,000 people and has pushed the country toward civil war.
The Observatory said tanks and other Army vehicles were still in the streets of cities and towns around the country on Friday.
The Observatory also said that troops opened fire at an anti-government demonstration in the village of Bardig in the central province of Hama late Thursday and defectors returned fire killing two soldiers.