World Bulletin / News Desk
Syria denied on Sunday accusations by special envoy Kofi Annan that it used heavy weapons or helicopters in clashes in the village of Tremseh last week, saying his comments about the fighting, which activists called a massacre, were "rushed".
Jihad Makdissi, spokesman for Syria's Foreign Ministry, said security forces killed 37 fighters and two civilians in a campaign against the town in central Hama, from which the government said rebels were launching attacks on other areas.
Activists' estimates of the death toll ranges from 100 to 220, many of them whole families in the village of Tremseh, where United Nations monitors say there was heavy fighting on Thursday.
"Government forces did not use planes, or helicopters, or tanks or artillery. The heaviest weapon used was an RPG (rocket propelled grenade)," Makdissi told reporters at a news conference in Damascus.
"What happened was not a massacre ... what happened was a military operation. They were clashes between security forces, whose duty is to defend civilians, and heavily armed forces that don't believe in a political solution."
Syria has become mired in a bloody revolt against President Bashar al-Assad that is now in its seventeenth month. Some foreign officials now say the uprising that began as street protests has morphed into a civil war.
So far, video published by activists said to be from the small village has shown blood drenched and burned corpses of young men, who could have been rebel fighters.
"Defence, not attack"
Special envoy Annan, who is leading efforts to implement a peace initiative in Syria, said on Friday that Syria had violated its commitments to U.N.-backed peace efforts.
"I am shocked and appalled by news coming out of the village of Tremseh, near Hama, of intense fighting, significant casualties, and the confirmed use of heavy weaponry such as artillery, tanks and helicopters," he said in a statement.
"This is in violation of the government's undertaking to cease the use of heavy weapons in population centres and its commitment to the six-point plan."
Makdissi rejected Annan's accusations, which were repeated in a letter sent to Foreign Minister Walid al-Moualem
"The least that can be said about this letter about what happened in Tremseh is that it did not rely on facts. As diplomatically as possible, we say that this letter was very rushed," the spokesman said.
Makdissi said statements on Saturday from a group of United Nations observers sent to Tremseh confirmed Syria's version of events. The group said the violence appeared to be attacks targeting rebels and opposition activists.
But their report also said artillery and mortars were used, and the head of the monitoring mission said a day earlier that monitors in the province had reported use of helicopters and indiscriminate fire.
Makdissi said accusations of a fierce attack were implausible given the tiny size of the village.
"Everything that has been said on the use of heavy weapons in an assault on a village no bigger than 1 km squared is completely untrue," he said, denying that villagers were targeted. "We are in a state of self-defence, not a state of attack."
Warring neighbours Armenia and Azerbaijan see heightened tensions amid a border dispute.
Israeli tanks opened fire in the southern Gaza Strip after a 72-hour truce began
Nicolay Koblyakov was held for 72 hours after being detained at Sofia airport on Tuesday following an extradition request from Russia
Dr. Mordechai Kedar said the only thing that can deter Palestinian fighters was if they knew their mothers and sisters would be raped.
Holder will argue that two people who commit the same crime should not serve unequal time based on those factors alone.
Japan's already fragile ties with China have soured over their competing claims to a string of uninhabited East China Sea islets
The plaintiffs, all immigrants who are either practicing Muslims or are from predominantly Muslim nations, complain their immigration or naturalization petitions were illegally thwarted
John Tefft will go to Moscow as U.S.-Russia ties are severely strained over Washington's sanctions on Russia due to its support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Military officials said a paratrooper unit had come under mortar and tank fire near the town of Shakhtarsk
Thousands flocked to beaches to celebrate Eid al-Fitr despite meteorological warnings.
The requested military supplies include tanks, sniper equipment, armored personnel carriers, artillery and ammunition, and also body armor, helmets, fuel trucks and ambulances.
Kenya's President Kenyatta said they would discuss the funding issue with American investors on the sidelines of the US-African leaders summit next week.
Over 13 lives were lost and properties were also destroyed.
"Gen. Haftar has not left Libya and is currently preparing for a major military operation in Benghazi," his spokesman Mohamed al-Hegazi said.
The announcement comes after Israel bombed Gaza's only power plant, forcing a continued power outage across the embattled Gaza Strip.
The quake had struck nine miles (14 km) southeast of Algiers and its epicentre was recorded at a relatively shallow depth of 6.2 miles