World Bulletin/News Desk
Syrian government forces pushed their way into Douma on Saturday after weeks of siege and shelling and fleeing residents spoke of corpses in the streets of the town near the capital Damascus.
The residents said hundreds of people were fleeing the town as government forces swept the streets in search of rebels trying to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.
They reported many bodies buried under the rubble of houses in the town of half a million, 15 km (10 miles) from Damascus.
It was not possible to immediately verify the reports on the day world powers met in Geneva to try and find a way to resolve the increasingly bloody conflict in Syria.
Abdullah, 50, said he and his five children left Douma on Saturday morning.
"I saw at least three bodies on a street corner, some houses were destroyed, others were on fire. Only a few people remained inside the city. Those who can, leave," he said by telephone from a nearby town.
"I saw a body on the side of the street and dogs were gathering around it, it was really horrible... we are all living as refugees inside our country," he added.
Abdullah left in a convoy of 200 people from his neighbourhood. He said eight people were packed into each car. They passed through four checkpoints where soldiers in "full gear" eyed their identity cards before allowing them through.
Syrian forces have used similar tactics countrywide, activists say, of long sieges and shelling before raids.
A 16-month uprising against Assad has morphed into a fight between rebels and the government which labels armed and unarmed dissidents as "terrorists."
Other residents reported hundreds of people fleeing Douma.
Call for Red Cross help
Abo Omar, another resident, said rebels withdrew from Douma on Friday night after an intensive 10-day government offensive.
"How can the rebels continue fighting with limited guns, facing tanks and helicopters? Now Assad's army is in control of the town," he said, adding that hundreds had been arrested.
"We are calling on the Red Cross and the (Syrian) Red Crescent to go inside the town and remove the bodies. Some of the bodies have started to decay," said Abo Omar.
He said many of the dead were buried under the rubble of houses.
Mohammed Doumany, an opposition activist who also left the town said: "There is no electricity or water, no communication. The situation was really horrible."
"Security forces are going into hospitals and we fear for the lives of the wounded," he added.
Syrian forces also on Saturday fired mortar bombs at major cities, activists said.
Live stream video footage posted by opposition activists in the eastern desert city of Deir al-Zor showed smoke rising from apartment blocks as continuous explosions rang out.
Activists also reported shelling in Homs, Idlib and Deraa.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that government shelling and heavy clashes between the army and members of the rebel Free Syrian Army have killed 16 people so far on Saturday.
Opposition activists accuse the international community of inaction. Diplomacy has failed to produce an agreement between Western powers, who favour the opposition, and Russia, which has used its veto power at the United Nations Security Council to block Western and Arab moves to drive Assad from power.
"The Interview" is a comedy about two journalists recruited by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un
Two Egyptian military officers and two from the United Arab Emirates were killed when their plane crashed during a joint exercise in Egypt, official reports said.
Their deaths would bring the number of Sheitaat members said to have been killed by the ISIL to over 900.
Castro praised Obama for agreeing to the prisoner exchange and pushing for a new relationship with Cuba.
The announcement follows the release of American Alan Gross, 65, from a Cuban prison where he was held for five years
Iran and the P5+1 group hold talks in Geneva after both sides failed to meet Nov. 24 deadline in Vienna
Russian President Vladimir Putin held a telephone conference Wednesday with the leaders of Germany, France and Ukraine to discuss creating a lasting peace in Ukraine.
A senior Fatah member has hailed the historic decision adopted by the European parliament on Wednesday calling for recognition of Palestinian statehood.
The university claimed that it had been proven that the dismissed students were involved in violence on campus since the new academic year began in early October
U.S. predator plane attacks Taliban vehicle; number of drone strikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan increasing
The dispute between Erbil and Baghdad, fueled by independent Kurdish oil exports through Turkey, is on the way towards a solution as Erbil helps Baghdad sell Kirkuk oil
Orhaneli and Tuncbilek thermal power plants located in western central provinces of Kutahya and Bursa have been privatised for $521 million
The relationship should be at the level of official political, diplomatic and economic channels between the two countries.
President Abdelaziz Bouteflika has given orders not to deport Malian refugees who entered Algeria illegally due to deteriorating security conditions in Mali,
Russian consumers also suffer as Apple halts sales and foreign car deliveries halted.
European Union says court's decision is legal ruling, not a political decision, which will be made by EU governments.