World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria's conflict spilled further into Lebanon on Saturday when mortar fire from government forces crashed into villages in the north, killing two women and a man after rebels crossed the border for refuge, residents said.
In contrast with Turkey, which openly harbours rebels fighting to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Lebanon was not expected to respond militarily and has played down the effect of regular clashes along the frontier.
But rebels have used north Lebanon as a base and Assad's forces have at times bombed villages and even crossed the border in pursuit of fighters, threatening to inflame tensions in Lebanon given a long history of Syrian domination there.
Residents of Lebanon's Wadi Khaled region said several mortar bombs hit farm buildings five to 20 km (3 to 12 miles) from the border at around 2 a.m. At midday villagers reported more explosions and said they heard gunfire close to the border.
In the village of al-Mahatta, a house was destroyed, killing a 16-year-old girl and wounding a two-year old and a four-year old, family members told Reuters. A 25-year-old woman and a man were killed in nearby villages, residents said.
The Lebanese army issued a brief statement about the incident. There was no immediate response from the prime minister or the foreign ministry, both of whom have expressed fears that Lebanon could be dragged into the conflict.
Turkey reinforced its border and scrambled fighter aircraft on several occasions last week after Syria shot down a Turkish warplane on June 22.
In Syria, the army bombarded towns across northern Aleppo province on Saturday in a concerted effort to root out insurgents who have taken control of some areas, the anti-government Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"The bombing is the heaviest since the start of military operations in rural Aleppo in an attempt to control the region after regular Syrian army forces suffered heavy losses over the past few months," the British-based activist group reported.
It said three people had died, including two rebels.
The Observatory said many families had been displaced and water, electricity and medical supplies were running short.
Russia, China hit back at Clinton
Aleppo, Syria's second largest city and commercial hub, has been largely spared of the violence. But the outskirts of the city and the wider province have seen rebels gaining territory since the uprising began 16 months ago.
Opposition activists say at least 15,000 people have been killed over that time. Assad says the rebels are foreign-backed terrorists who have killed thousands of army and police troops in hit-and-run attacks and roadside bombings.
Residents say rebels have set up checkpoints along roads in the Aleppo region and in some towns the army is confined to barracks.
The Observatory said 93 people, mostly civilians, were killed across Syria on Friday, when protesters took the streets to call for a "people's liberation war."
Opposition activists said they feared for the lives of the residents of Khan Sheikhoun after the army seized control of the rebel stronghold in the northern Idlib province on Friday in an assault with helicopter gunships.
On the diplomatic front, China on Saturday joined Russia in rejecting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's accusation that Beijing and Moscow have hindered efforts to bring about a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Syria.
Any attempt to "slander" China was doomed to fail, it said.
Clinton had urged Assad's international opponents meeting in Paris on Friday to make Russia and China "pay a price" for helping the authoritarian leader keep power in Damascus.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said Clinton's comments were "totally unacceptable".
"Any words and deeds that slander China and sow discord between China and other countries will be in vain," he said.
Thousands of families have fled their homes in the past two weeks due to heavy fighting between government forces and rebels and many face food shortages, the United Nations said on Friday.
Late on Friday, about 300 refugees, including about 30 military personnel, crossed into Turkey at the border at Bukulmez in Hatay province, according to a Reuters cameraman.
Several ports are in rebel hands and fighting has made travelling by road perilous.
Turkey's relations with Tehran have already been strained by stark differences over Syria. Ankara upped the ante last week, saying it backs the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen against Houthi militants supported by Iran.
According to the source,Pro-Houthi brigade has disintegrated Ad Dali, brigade commander Abdullah Dabaan has fled.
Abu Mohamad al-Golani, leader of the Nusra front said residents of the northwestern city of Idlib would be treated well by his fighters and other Islamic factions that captured it on Saturday.
"They pushed from the Hajar Aswad area," one witness said, adding that the violence was ongoing. Yarmouk has been caught between government forces and Syrian insurgent groups including al Qaeda's Nusra Front.
"The borders have been closed for traffic temporarily.. It's a precautionary move.. due to the violent events on the other side," the interior ministry said.
"Now is the time for the international community to insist on a better deal," he said in a televised statement in English.
The air strike hit Zintan, whose forces have sided with Prime Minister Abdullah al-Thinni's government against the rival administration set up by forces who took over Tripoli in the summer during factional fighting in Libya.
With talks to cinch a deal on the horizon according to Iran, France says there is not enough to go ahead for a deal just yet
Abdollahian and Ban spoke on the sidelines of an international conference in Kuwait aimed at addressing the humanitarian crisis in Syria, IRNA reported.
United Nations experts reported to the U.N. Security Council, thousands of people from some 100 countries in Syria and Iraq, there were also 6,500 in Afghanistan and hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.
The operation by Saudi Arabia and other Sunni Muslim states is aimed at stopping the Houthis and former president Ali Abdullah Saleh winning control of the country and at reinstating Saudi-backed President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement, nuclear talks to merit staying until Wednesday.
The negotiators ended talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the early hours of Wednesday and said they would reconvene later in the day, with Iran and Russia expressing optimism that an initial agreement was within reach.
The Mazraq camp for displaced people near Haradh was struck on Monday, humanitarian workers said. Some 200 people were wounded, dozens of them seriously, the International Organization for Migration said.
Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah on Tuesday pledged $500 million in humanitarian aid to help ease the crisis in Syria.