World Bulletin/News Desk
Syria's navy fired live missiles from ships and helicopters over the weekend, state media said on Sunday, in an exercise aiming at showcasing its ability to "defend Syria's shores against any possible aggression".
Syrian television aired video of a variety of missiles being fired from launchers on land and from ships and showed the Syrian Defence Minister Dawud Abdallah Rahijia in attendance.
"Naval Forces conducted an operational live fire exercise on Saturday, using missiles launched from the sea and coast, helicopters and missile boats, simulating a scenario of repelling a sudden attack from the sea," Syrian news agency SANA said, adding manoeuvres would continue for several days.
Opposition figures have been calling for a no-fly zone and NATO strikes against Syrian forces, similar to those carried out in Libya last year which enabled rebel ground forces to end the rule of Muammar Gaddafi.
But while President Bashar al-Assad has faced sanctions and international condemnation over his crackdown on dissent which has left thousands dead, major Western and Arab powers have shied away from the idea of direct military action.
Turkey has reinforced its border and scrambled fighter aircraft several times since Syria shot down a Turkish reconnaissance jet on June 22 over what Damascus said were Syrian territorial waters in the Mediterranean. Ankara said the incident occurred in international air space.
More than 30 people were killed on Sunday during a government bombardment and clashes between Syrian forces and Free Syrian Army rebels fighting to oust Assad, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
Activists reported heavy shelling in residential areas of Deir al-Zor city and in Deraa province, the birthplace of the revolt near the Jordanian border.
Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory, said that residents of al-Sharifa in the wider Deir al-Zor province said rebels had taken control of a tank looted in combat for the first time and were using it to attack army positions.
In recent weeks, rebels have become more and more brazen in their attacks, holding small areas of territory across the country and clashing with troops only a few miles from the presidential palace in Damascus.
Nusra Front delivers 16 Lebanese soldiers via Red Cross as part of Qatar-supervised prisoner swap
Ambassador refutes claims pair are linked to Iranian Quds force
4,000 civilians in Iraq and Syria have been killed this year by airstrikes ostensibly targeting ISIL, UK-based NGOs say
London had suspended flights to Egypt’s Sharm al-Sheikh following crash of Russian passenger plane in October
'Naturally, if you ask Syrians they will tell you they don't want a peace conference in France... because France supports terrorism and war, not peace,' Syrian president says
Spokesman says countries conducting airstrikes must maximize measures to protect civilian lives
UAE would 'participate in any international effort demanding a ground intervention to fight terrorism', State Minister for Foreign Affairs says
Damascus's denial comes as growing number of countries have cast doubt on whether Syrian regime is truly making efforts to destroy its lethal arms
Local Turkmen commander asserts there are no Daesh militants in Syria's northwestern Bayirbucak region
Planned meeting of Syrian opposition groups in Riyadh in December could boost unity within opposition forces to enter talks on ending the conflict
PM Abadi's remarks come a day after American senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham advocated to nearly triple number of US troops in Iraq
France's top diplomat says it is 'obvious' Assad could not work alongside moderate opposition in Syria
Latest arrests come one day after four policemen are killed in drive-by shooting south of capital Cairo
Jewish state slaps Swede of Palestinian descent with 18 months for allegedly spying for Lebanese armed group
The destroyed bakery was serving 40,000 people per day, owners say
Angered by EU move to label goods from illegal settlements, Israel suspends its role in peace talks with Palestinians