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Middle East

Syrian rebels 'take army post' near Turkey

At least 18 government troops killed in clashes near rebel-held town of Ras al-Ain, activists say.
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2012 20:26

Syrian rebels have taken control over a military post near Syria's northeastern border with Turkey after killing at least 18 government soldiers in clashes, according to an activist group. 

The fighting - which also left an unknown number of soldiers wounded - took place on Wednesday near Ras al-Ain, a border town that the opposition fighters seized last week, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The UK-based rights group also said that some soldiers managed to flee the area, which is located in the province of al-Hassake.

Three rebels were killed and more than 10 wounded, according to the group, which relies on a network of activists on the ground. 

Meanwhile in Damascus, Syrian warplanes bombed rebel enclaves on Wednesday, in an escalation of the aerial bombardment of districts close to the heart of the capital.

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"The planes are firing rockets at the neighbourhoods of Qaboun and Jobar. They are flying high and you can hear the
impact of the rockets," opposition activist Yasmine al-Shami told Reuters news agency.

Jobar is a working-class Sunni Muslim district that has been at the forefront of the 20-month uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Fighter jets also bombed Maaret al-Numan, a northwestern town rebels captured last month, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Syrian opposition headquarter

In a separate development, Syria's new opposition coalition said it will set up its headquarters in Cairo, Egypt's capital, as it lobbies foreign powers for recognition as the war-torn country's legitimate government.

Mouaz al-Khatib, a moderate Sunni Muslim cleric who fled Syria for Cairo in July, was elected on Sunday to head the
coalition, the latest attempt to present a united front.

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The opposition is under growing pressure to form a body that can rule after Assad as rebels advance on the ground and the country slides further into economic and social chaos.

"The decision has been taken to make Cairo the permanent headquarters for the Syrian opposition coalition to meet and
plan ahead," an aide to Khatib told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity. 

US President Barack Obama says he is encouraged that the Syrian opposition has formed a new, more representative leadership council, but he says the US isn't ready to recognise the group as a "government in exile" or to arm it.

Prominent coalition member Walid el-Bunni from the Syrian National Council (SNC) confirmed the decision on
Wednesday and said the movement was in talks with the Egyptian government to finalise arrangements for the new headquarters.

Six Arab Gulf countries and France have announced their support for the coalition but it still lacks full recognition
from the United States, other European countries and the Arab League.

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Source:
Agencies
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