Violence intensifies in Syria

2012-06-24 08:42
AP

AP

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Damascus - More than 100 people were reported killed on Saturday in violence across Syria, as Turkey played down Syria's shooting down of one of its warplanes.

President Bashar al-Assad meanwhile formed a new cabinet, but kept the key posts unchanged.

Nato member Ankara acknowledged that one of its warplanes may have violated Syrian airspace after Damascus confirmed shooting down the F-4 Phantom on Friday. Its muted response however was seen as a bid to take the tension out of the latest rift between the former allies.

A Syrian military spokesperson told the official SANA news agency early on Saturday that they had shot down what had at the time been an unidentified object coming in low and fast over its territorial waters.

Anti-aircraft batteries hit the plane about a kilometre from the coast and it crashed about 10km off Latakia province, he added.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said it was not unusual for warplanes flying at high speed to cross maritime borders, but stressed that such actions were not "ill-intentioned."

Missing crew

Naval forces from both nations were searching for the two missing crew.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc played down the tensions.

"We should be calm ... Yes, we accept this is a critical matter but we don't have clear information," he told Anatolia news agency.

The results of an ongoing investigation would be publicised "as soon as possible."

UN leader Ban Ki-moon had expressed his "deep concern" over the incident in a telephone conversation with Turkey's foreign minister, a spokesperson said.

"He commended Turkey for the restraint shown in its initial reaction," said the UN spokesperson, Martin Nesirky.

"The secretary general urged both to continue to address the situation diplomatically," he added.

Violence

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 116 people, 77 of them civilians, were killed in violence across the country on Saturday as regime forces stepped up attacks on towns.

The Britain-based monitoring group said the civilians had been killed in the bombardment of rebel bastions.

They included a family of six in Deir Ezzor, eastern Syria; a man and his three children in Kfaraaya, in the central province of Homs; and four members of the same family, including two children, in Hama, central Syria.

Nineteen soldiers were killed in fighting with rebels, and 10 died among the rebel forces, the Observatory said. Another 10 soldiers were gunned down as they tried to defect to anti-regime forces, it added.

On Friday, at least 116 people were also reported killed.

Read more on:    un  |  ban ki-moon  |  syria  |  turkey  |  syria conflict

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