World Bulletin/News Desk
Syrian troops stormed into a Palestinian refugee district in Damascus, opposition activists said, after a four-day artillery assault on the southern suburb where rebels fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad have dug in.
Assad's forces have preferred to use air power and artillery to hit areas where rebels are positioned and infantry raids normally occur only once many have fled. Activists said they feared for civilian inhabitants in the latest offensive.
Assad's use of military force to quell an uprising that began almost 18 months ago as a peaceful pro-democracy movement has cost him many allies in the Arab and Muslim world and caused a trickle of defections from Syrian government and army ranks.
Two Syrian diplomats in Malaysia announced late on Friday that they had joined the opposition, according to a report by pan-Arab television channel Al Arabiya.
Two men identifying themselves as First Secretary Imad Ahmar and Attaché Mahmoud Obedi from Syria's Kuala Lumpur embassy read out a statement on the channel declaring their "support for the Syrian people's revolution against the tyrannical regime".
But the defections so far are seen largely as symbolic and Assad has increasingly relied on a close circle of relatives and senior members of his minority Alawite sect dominating the ruling elite to maintain his grip on power.
Syrian activist Abu Yasser al-Shami said that his friends living in Yarmouk, a densely populated Palestinian refugee camp where 10 people were killed on Friday in shelling, had fled the area on Saturday morning after government troops swept in.
"Assad's forces stormed al-Basel hospital in Yarmouk Camp and arrested many of the injured civilians," he said over Skype.
When insurgents thrust into central parts of the capital in July, they were swiftly pushed back to southern districts, like Yarmouk, where there is a thinner state security presence.
But residents complain that the army uses indiscriminate artillery and air strikes. Palestinians have been divided over whether or not to support Assad, but there are signs that more and more are now starting to back the uprising.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition watchdog based in London, said shells rained down on Hajar al-Aswad district, which neighbours Yarmouk, on Saturday.
It said 170 people were killed in bloodshed on Friday across the country, many of them in Damascus and northern Aleppo, where rebels say they control more than half of what is Syria's most populous city and commercial centre.
The Observatory says more than 23,000 people have died in an uprising that has lasted more than 17 months. Around 200,000 Syrians have fled to neighbouring Turkey, Jordan and Iraq.
The United States has accused Russia and China of effectively prolonging Syria's bloodletting by blocking efforts at the U.N. Security Council to approve tough sanctions aimed at reining in the Assad government.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a summit of Pacific rim states that Moscow and Western powers remained at loggerheads over how to defuse the conflict - a diplomatic impasse in which Western officials say violence has flourished.
"Our U.S. partners prefer measures like threats, increased pressure and new sanctions against both Syria and Iran. We do not agree with this in principle," Lavrov told reporters. Russia and Iran are Assad's closest allies.
Lavrov said Russia expected the Security Council later this month to formally endorse an agreement brokered by former U.N. Syria envoy Kofi Annan which envisages a transitional governing authority for Syria.
Washington has angered Russia by going outside the United Nations to work with allies on the Syrian opposition's behalf. But U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Lavrov it was possible to return to the United Nations if Moscow and Beijing were ready to forego their vetoes and back stronger measures.
Police with batons and plastic shields jostled with Wade's supporters as they pushed them back from the airport, making several arrests.
This latest move likely adds to tensions in the tiny Gulf state, where there are clashes with police in many Shi'ite areas almost every day
Lavrov said Moscow would respond if its interests, or the interests of Russian citizens, were attacked.
The United States and European Union have held out the threat of further sanctions on Russia if it does not implement the Geneva agreement.
An American from Pennsylvania, a Syrian citizen and a London resident conspired to export items as a portable scanner used to detect chemical warfare agents, according to the US Justice Department
The five-member Snohomish County Council voted unanimously to table the issue of whether to impose a moratorium on construction within a half-mile of landslide hazard areas
Police officers had earlier stopped the saloon car at traffic lights and were taking the occupants for questioning when the bomb exploded, the ministry said.
Crimean Tatar leader Kirimoglu says he will return to the peninsula amid rumors he is banned
Qatar's dispute with three fellow Gulf states, which withdrew their envoys from Doha last month, is "over", the Qatari foreign minister said
Al-Shabaab has used Ayn as a launch pad for attacks on allied forces in Baldwin, capital of the south-central Hiran region.
"Efforts designed to end years of suffering have failed," declares UN
During Wednesday's session, judges heard a number of witnesses for the prosecution and adjourned the hearings to allow them to hear more witness testimony
Twelve Palestinians, including six children were injured when an Israeli aircraft fired on them in the city of Beit Lahia.
The move envisions forming a unity government within five weeks and holding national elections six months.
Carriages flipped off the track in the accident near Likasi, a mining town between Lubumbashi and Kolwezi in the copper and cobalt-rich southeast
Candido Van-Dunem, who had held the post since 2010, will be replaced by Joao Lourenco, a former secretary-general of the MPLA ruling party