Military defectors unite under Free Syrian Army
http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/24/wo...est/?hpt=hp_t3(CNN) -- A top defector from the Syrian military said Saturday that armed rebel groups have aligned under the leadership of the Free Syrian Army.
Uniting all efforts will bolster the anti-regime movement and safeguard the nation, Brig. Gen. Mustafa Sheikh said in a video posted on YouTube.
The move addressed a key concern for observers of the Syrian crisis both inside and outside the country -- that armed rebel groups were disjointed and divided.
Sheikh was one of the first high ranking officers to announce his defection from President Bashar al-Assad's forces. He was accompanied in the video by Free Syrian Army commander Col. Riad al-Asaad.
Turkey denies Syrian helicopter went down in border province
Turkish officials have denied reports that a Syrian helicopter went down in the Birecik district of the southeastern Turkish province of Şanlıurfa.
Reports said early on Sunday a Syrian helicopter went down in the district and secuirty officials launched serach efforts to find the wreckage.
Şanlıurfa Governor Celalettin Güvenç was quoted as saying by the state-run Anatolia news agency that saying that his office did not receive any "noteworthy" information regarding such a crash.
Meanwhile, Turkish media also claimed on Sunday that a Syrian pilot, who allegedly refused to hit protestors during anti-regime demonstrations on Saturday landed in Turkey after hitting a security point in Aleppo.
When asked about the two allegations by the state-run Anatolia news agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Selçuk Ünal said no aircraft has passed to Turkish airspace from Syria.
A Syrian helicopter pilot who rejected orders to bomb an area of Aleppo, targeted a Syrian military security building instead before fleeing to Turkey after he run out of ammunition, a source in the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council (SNC) told Al Arabiya.
Several army defectors, including senior officers, have escaped to Turkey since the uprising in Syria. Head of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA), Colonel Riad al-Asaad, is currently residing in Turkey.
A SNC source told Al Arabiya that the defected pilot has reached Turkey, adding that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has lost confidence in the air force fears that pilots sent on a mission could instead bomb the presidential palace or government facilities.
The pilot had been ordered to bomb the Aleppo area of Aazaz, strategically positioned on the road to neighboring Turkey and which is a supply route for Free Syrian Army fighters.
A Syrian official, however, denied the report that the pilot has defected and fled to Turkey. The official was quoted by the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA).
Turkey has not commented on report, which if confirmed by Ankara would be the first of its kind in Syria since the start of the uprising a year ago.
US President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have agreed on the need to send "non-lethal" aid to Syrian rebels, including communications equipment, a US official says.
The two leaders agreed that a "Friends of Syria" group meeting on April 1 should seek to provide such aid and also medical supplies, as they met in South Korea on the eve of a nuclear security summit, US deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said on Sunday.
Washington has said several times that it is looking at providing non-lethal aid to Syrian rebels battling the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, whom the United States says should step down.
The rebels are badly outgunned by Syria's armed forces, but the White House has said that it does not favour arming the rebels, arguing that further "militarising" the conflict would worsen civilian bloodshed.
Washington has also ruled out unilateral military action in Syria, and says there is no coalition favouring multilateral action such as the one that ousted Libya's Muammar Gaddafi last year.
In the talks with Erdogan, Obama said the United States and Turkey agreed that "there should be a process" of transition to a "legitimate government" in Syria.
Syrian Air Force intelligence chief killed, opposition websites report
There was no immediate confirmation of the reports released on opposition websites; at least 70 reportedly killed in battles across Syria on Sunday.
By Avi Issacharoff and Haaretz
*******) - Syrian troops advanced into north Lebanon on Tuesday, destroying farm building and clashing with Syrian rebels who had taken refuge there, residents said."More than 35 Syrian soldiers came across the border and started to destroy houses," said Abu Ahmed, 63, a resident of the rural mountain area of al-Qaa.
Another resident said that the soldiers, some travelling in armoured personnel vehicles, fired rocket-propelled grenades and exchanged heavy machinegun fire with rebels.
Well, at least they dont have to worry about Lebanese army trying to do anything. Have to wonder how long will it take till sunni militias which clashed with Alawites in Tripoli decide to go to al-Qaa for a visist.
I always lol@these various (and multiple) reports of Syrian army incursions into Lebanon. Reminds me of the mighty LAF defending the sovereignty of their shrubbery in the whole tree incident with Israel a year back. Shows who's pulling the strings in Beirut.
Report: Shots fired toward Assad during visit to embattled city of Homs
Syria state television shows video of president walking through defeated rebel stronghold; no further details available in report on alleged assassination attempt.
By ******* and Haaretz
http://www.nowlebanon.com/NewsArticl...aspx?ID=380581Conflicting reports emerged Tuesday on clashes between Syrian regime forces and rebel troops along the Lebanese-Syrian border in the northern Bekaa Valley.
******* quoted residents as saying that Syrian troops entered northern Lebanon, clashed with Syrian rebels and destroyed a farm building.
"More than 35 Syrian soldiers came across the border and started to destroy houses," a resident in the Bekaa village of Al-Qaa told *******.
“Another resident said that the soldiers, some traveling in armored personnel vehicles, fired rocket-propelled grenades and exchanged heavy machinegun fire with rebels,” ******* reported.
Meanwhile, a resident of the area told NOW Lebanon that the Syrian army entered Lebanese territory with “the help of the Lebanese army.”
He added that “the Lebanese army arrested many Lebanese nationals [pursuant to the] orders of the Syrian army.”
“We don’t know whom to run from, the Lebanese or the Syrian army.”
“We are at war, we are sitting in the [farm] fields now. I heard that [the Syrians] were going to [move in farther] in a while, around three kilometers into Lebanese land.”
However, AFP quoted the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying that clashes took place on the Syrian side of the border between government troops and rebel soldiers, not in Lebanon.
Also, the National News Agency denied that Syrian forces crossed into Masharee al-Qaa.