CullmanTimes.com - Cullman, Alabama

National News

March 29, 2013

INTERNATIONAL: Syrian rebels capture key town near Jordan border

BEIRUT — Syrian rebels on Friday captured a strategic town near the border with Jordan after a day of fierce clashes that killed at least 38 people, activists said, as opposition fighters expand their presence in the south, considered a gateway to Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 16 rebels were among the dead in the fighting in and around Dael. The town lies less than 15 kilometers (10 miles) from the Jordanian border in Daraa province, where the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began two years ago.

The rebel gains have coincided with what regional officials and military experts say is a sharp increase in weapons shipments to opposition fighters by Arab governments in coordination with the U.S. in the hopes of readying a push into Assad's stronghold in the capital, Damascus.

Although rebels control wide areas in northern Syria that border Turkey, the Jordanian frontier is only about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Damascus, or a third of the distance to the Turkish border.

The battle for Dael came as authorities ordered an investigation into a mortar attack on Damascus University that killed at least 10 students on Thursday, state media said. The attack was the deadliest since a wave of mortar shells began hitting the capital last month, puncturing the sense of normalcy the regime has tried to cultivate in the city.

It was unclear who fired the mortar rounds. The government blamed "terrorists," its blanket term for those fighting Assad's regime. Anti-regime activists accused the regime of staging the attack to turn civilians — many of whom in Damascus are already wary of the opposition fighters — against the rebels.

"Rebels now control wide areas in the Daraa countryside,'" said Rami Abdul-Rahman who heads the Observatory. "Every area that goes out of government control is important."

Syrian activist Maher Jamous, who is from Dael but currently lives in the United Arab Emirates, said that despite the steady advances and the latest rebel victory in Dael, the regime still maintains a strong presence in the strategic province that leads to the capital.

Jamous said the capture of Dael increases the pressure on the regime.

The regime is known to have posted elite troops in Daraa province, which separates Damascus from the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights that the Jewish state captured in 1967 and annexed in 1981.

Jamous said Dael has a population of 40,000, making it one of the bigger towns in the primarily agricultural region, which is dotted with small family farms. He added that the town fell briefly into the opposition's hands in the early days of the uprising, but was quickly retaken by regime forces in May 2011.

Amateur videos posted online by activists, showed rebels in the streets of Dael and the bodies of dead soldiers lying on the ground. The videos appeared genuine and corresponded to other AP reporting on the events depicted.

In other areas, the Observatory said heavy clashes were taking place between regime forces and fighters renewing their attempts to storm a strategic military facility, known as the 17th Division base, north of the city of Raqqa that was captured by rebels earlier this month.

The division is considered one of the most important remaining regime strongholds in the northern province that borders Turkey, the Observatory said. It added that warplanes carried out several air raids in the area.

The Observatory said regime forces bombarded the Damascus suburb of Adra, while the government al Al-Ikhbariya TV said troops killed "many terrorists" in the area which is close to one of the main jails in the country.

The Aleppo Media Center and the Observatory reported clashes, shelling and attacks by helicopter gunships near the international airport of the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest and commercial center.

Syria's crisis began in March 2011 with protests demanding Assad's ouster. Following a harsh government crackdown, the uprising steadily grew more violent until it became a full-fledged civil war. The U.N. says more than 70,000 people have been killed since.

 

1
Text Only
National News
  • Fort Hood (UPDATED) Officials: 4 dead, including gunman, at Fort Hood

    A gunman opened fire Wednesday at Fort Hood in an attack that left four dead, including the shooter, law enforcement officials said.
    One of the officials, citing official internal U.S. Justice Department updates, said 14 others were hurt. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to release information by name.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • Smartphone kill switches are coming

    Smartphones need kill switches. It's a relatively easy solution to the pricey (and irritating) problem of smartphone theft. But who would have thought that the big carriers would team up with Apple, Google, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung and lots of other manufacturers to voluntarily begin adding the technology by July 2015? The cooperative spirit! It makes so much sense!

    April 18, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • mfp file Hoffner Fired coach unjustly accused of visiting porn sites

    The president of Minnesota State University-Mankato accused a football coach of looking at Internet porn on a work computer before firing him, an arbitrator has revealed. The official said the claim could not be supported, and the coach shouldn't have been fired.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • High School Stabbings 4 students seriously hurt in Pa. school stabbings

    A student armed with a knife went on a stabbing and slashing spree at a high school near Pittsburgh on Wednesday morning, leaving as many as 20 people injured, including four students who suffered serious wounds, authorities said.

    April 9, 2014 2 Photos

  • Obit Ultimate Warrior Former pro wrestler Ultimate Warrior dies at 54

    James Hellwig, better known as former pro wrestler The Ultimate Warrior, has died, the WWE said. He was 54.

    April 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • news_amazonfiretv.jpg Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

    Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Washington Mudslide Death toll in Washington mudslide rises to 30

    As medical examiners painstakingly piece together the identities and lives of the 30 people known killed when a mudslide wiped out a small Washington community, one mystery troubles them.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • APTOPIX Fort Hood Fort Hood gunman sought mental health treatment

    An Iraq War veteran being treated for mental illness was the gunman who opened fire at Fort Hood, killing three people and wounding 16 others before committing suicide, in an attack on the same Texas military base where more than a dozen people were slain in 2009, authorities said.

    April 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • Supreme Court Campaign Big donors may give even more under court’s ruling

    The Supreme Court ruling Wednesday erasing a long-standing limit on campaign donations will allow a small number of very wealthy donors to give even more than is currently the case, according to students of the complex campaign finance system, and could strengthen the establishment in both parties.

    April 2, 2014 1 Photo