(Sh. M. Network)-The security forces of the Somalia's northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland ...a region in northeastern Somalia, centered on Garowe in the Nugaal province. Its leaders declared the territory an autonomous state in 1998. Puntland and the equally autonomous Somaliland seem to have avoided the clan rivalries and warlordism that have typified the rest of Somalia, which puts both places high on the list for Islamic subversion... ,have on Wednesday conducted security operations in northern divided Galka'yo, some 750 Km north of Mogadishu, witnesses and security officials said.
Eyewitnesses said the army has jugged Don't shoot, coppers! I'm comin' out! dozens of gunnies carrying explosives, whom the officials are accusing to have links with Al shabab bully boyz and are now being held at a prison northern Galka'yo.
Mohammed Yusuf Jama'a, the governor of Mudug state for Puntland, told news hounds in Galka'yo town that the security forces are committed to continue the operations to secure the town.
"These military operations will not stop until they (gangs) are wiped out from the entire city," he added.
The city is divided into two zones, where the main northern portion forms part of Puntland state, while its southern tip is governed by the Galmudug ...a semiautonomous region in central Somalia, bordering Puntland on the north. Galmudug is not trying to obtain international recognition as a separate nation, but rather considers itself autonomous within the larger Somali federalism, for what that's worth... administration.
Punt Tells Somalialand : Watch ! Also : Zlitan Have Freeport And Sales Tax Repeal : Buy Purchased Without Tax Added On Purchase Item : Known As Utilization Free Trade Zone And Shared Resources : Both Tribes Have Shared Resources And Commerce Together : Canton : Belgium Status : Lichenstein With Swiss Styled : How About Economic Resource Zone Styled : China : Monaco Style : Tax Haven : Likened : Powerball Lotto : Community Townships Get : $$$ And Residents 2 : ALLAH O AKBAR
(Sh. M. Network)-The African Union ...a union consisting of 53 African states, most run by dictators of one flavor or another. The only all-African state not in the AU is Morocco. Established in 2002, the AU is the successor to the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), which was even less successful... mission in Somalia (AMISOM) said Wednesday that they have taken over the security of the Afgoye corridor from the Somali soldiers.
Since the joint forces of TFG and AMISOM made major military gains against the Al shabab beyond the capital this year, the main road links Mogadishu to the agricultural town of Afgoye has witnessed a lot of insecurity and robbery acts against the civilian buses by gangs.
Afgoye had been a main Al-Shabaab ... the personification of Somali state failure... stronghold for three years, and a major success for AMISOM forces since deployment in Somalia in 2007.
The town was also a fortified stronghold for beturbanned fascisti because it sets at a strategic crossroads, linking the capital, Mogadishu, with western and southern parts of the country.
Al-Shabaab's withdrawal from Afgoye without fierce resistance follows a pattern of retreat, including a pull-out from positions in Mogadishu last August, and their abandonment of the key city of Baidoa to Æthiopian and Somali troops in February.
(Sh. M. Network)-Witnesses say a soldier dressed in Government military uniform has opened fire on a vehicle carrying dozens of passengers in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, killing at least three travelers.
Wednesday attack took place at Sanaa junction, east of Mogadishu, where Eyewitnesses said that two persons who were reportedly members of the passengers and the driver of the car were killed in the spot while another woman was injured.
"This act is a part of the ongoing attacks on civilian buses in Mogadishu by gangs who intend to loot and take the passengers from their possessions," said a driver who spoke with Shabelle Media on condition of anonymity.
Shortly afterwards, Somali Security forces have sealed off the shooting area and began search operations, but reports indicated the killer has beat feet from the scene, before the army arrived.
Police in Egypt on Wednesday placed in long-term storage Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! a man who tossed four homemade nail bombs into the German embassy grounds and attacked the entrance with a hammer but injured nobody and caused no serious damage, the embassy and security sources said.
The man acted out of anger after reading an Egyptian newspaper report on Friday which described a protest by German right-wing activists who had paraded caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in front of a German mosque, they said.
ADEN: Suspected Al-Qaeda militants early yesterday blew up a pipeline pumping liquefied gas to Yemen's southern Balhaf export terminal, causing a complete halt in operations, security officials said.
The gunmen blew up the gas pipeline "at Station 5, in the village of Zahira, in the Shabwa province," said provincial security chief brigadier-general Ahmed Omeir. He said the attack took place around 1:00 a.m. Tuesday (2200 GMT Monday).
Another security official accused Al-Qaeda militants, who remain active in the region, of being behind the attack.
Witnesses said that dozens of villagers fled their houses due to a raging fire caused by the explosion. The fire was put out later in the day after disconnecting the attacked station, other witnesses said, adding that army troops have been deployed as engineers began to assess the damage.
Yemen began exporting liquefied natural gas from Balhaf in 2009.France's Total has an almost 40 percent interest in the Balhaf plant.
The 320-kilometer (200-mile) pipeline linking Marib province to Balhaf, in Yemen's mostly lawless south, has been repeatedly sabotaged by Al-Qaeda militants. On May 13, the pipeline was blown up near Mayfaa, also in Shabwa, nearly three weeks after it was sabotaged on April 26, shortly after it was repaired following a similar March attack.
[Bangla Daily Star] Police yesterday tossed in the slammer Drop the heater, Slats, or you're a dead 'un! Jamaat-e-Islami ...The Islamic Society, founded in 1941 in Lahore by Maulana Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi, aka The Great Apostosizer. The Jamaat opposed the independence of Bangladesh but has operated an independent branch there since 1975. It maintains close ties with international Mohammedan groups such as the Moslem Brotherhood. the Taliban, and al-Qaeda. The Jamaat's objectives are the establishment of a pure Islamic state, governed by Sharia law. It is distinguished by its xenophobia, and its opposition to Westernization, capitalism, socialism, secularism, and liberalist social mores... acting secretary general ATM Azharul Islam in connection with crimes against humanity committed during the Liberation War.
The arrest was made just over two hours after International Crimes Tribunal-1 issued the arrest warrant.
Among other allegations, the Jamaat leader reportedly had direct involvement in the killing of 1,200 unarmed Bangalees in Badarganj of Rangpur on a single day during the Liberation War.
Ramna police in association with Detective Branch of Police and Rapid Action Battalion personnel tossed in the slammer Drop the rosco, Muggsy, or you're a dead 'un! Azhar at his Moghbazar home around 2:00pm, Syed Nurul Islam, deputy commissioner of Ramna Division, told The Daily Star.
Azhar, who hails from Badarganj of Rangpur, was taken to the DB office on Mintoo Road on security grounds, Nurul Islam claimed.
Azhar had been in jail in connection with other cases since September last year but he got out on bail last Thursday, the day before the Eid holidays began.
Mashiur Rahman, officer-in-charge (investigation) of Ramna Police Station, said Azhar would be produced before Tribunal-1 today (Thursday).
Earlier yesterday, Prosecutor Nurjahan Begum Mukta appealed to Tribunal-1 for an arrest warrant against the Jamaat leader for "effective and proper investigation" into his alleged crimes during the war.
The prosecutor said Azhar was the chief of the Al-Badr force in Rangpur and had committed murder, genocide, rape, looting and other crimes against humanity during the war.
The Al-Badr was a force that collaborated with the Pakistain occupation army. It was formed mostly with members of the Islami Chhatra Sangha, the then student wing of the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Nurjahan said, "Investigation has properly revealed evidence of his [Azhar's] involvement in crimes against humanity...
"As the acting secretary general of Jamaat-e-Islami, the accused is a very influential person," said the prosecutor, adding, "There is proof that the accused has been trying to destroy evidence at home and abroad to hinder the proper investigation process."
Claiming that the accused might go on the run any time, the prosecutor said he should be tossed in the slammer Drop the gat, Rocky, or you're a dead 'un! for the sake of effective and proper investigation.
In response to the prosecution petition and arguments, the three-member tribunal, headed by Justice Md Nizamul Huq, issued the arrest warrant and directed police to produce the Jamaat leader before the tribunal within 24 hours of his arrest.
It also directed the authorities concerned to look after the health of the accused.
Shishir Manir, a member of the defence team of locked away Youse'll never take me alive coppers!... [BANG!]... Ow!... I quit! Jamaat leaders accused of war crimes at the tribunals, told The Daily Star that the defence would seek bail for Azhar today.
Abdul Hannan Khan, the coordinator of the investigation agency of the tribunals, told The Daily Star that investigations into the allegations against the Jamaat leader had already been half done.
He said the Sherlocks hoped to complete the probe within the next three months.
Investigations against Azhar began on April 15 this year.
Prosecutor Nurjahan claimed that Azhar was a student of Rangpur Carmichael College and president of Islami Chhatra Sangha of Rangpur. She said he led the formation of the Al-Badr force in the district during the war.
She claimed that on a single day in mid-April 1971, around 1,200 freedom-loving Bangalees of Jharuar Beel and Padmapukur areas of Badarganj were killed and Azhar was directly involved in the mass killing.
Nurjahan said Azhar was also involved in arson and looting of numerous houses in Badarganj area in cooperation with the Mighty Pak Army.
In April 1971, Azhar along with the Mighty Pak Army, kidnapped a professor of Rangpur Carmichael College along with his wife and some other professors of the college. They were rubbed out near Damdama Bridge in the district, said the prosecutor.
Nurjahan did not mention the names of the victims or witnesses for the sake of their privacy, secrecy and the ongoing investigation. She used alphabets instead of names before the tribunal.
The prosecutor said the Jamaat leader was directly involved in the killing of at least 11 people, including a prominent pro-liberation lawyer of Rangpur.
Azerbaijan, Baku -- The Turkish armed forces on Tuesday have bombed two major Kurdistan Worker Party camps, which are in northern Iraq, the Sabah newspaper reported on Wednesday.
F-16 fighters are reported to have launched an operation to destroy the largest bases militants yesterday and the operation continued until night. PKK leaders Murat Karayilan, Cemil Bayik and Duran Kalkan are supposed to have been in the PKK camps.
ISTANBUL: Turkey's leaders called for unity on Wednesday following a car bomb attack which heightened fears that Kurdish militants are exploiting chaos in neighboring Syria and stepping up their decades-old insurgency.
Unidentified assailants detonated the car bomb by a police station in the industrial city of Gaziantep near the Syrian border late on Monday, killing nine people including several children and wounding more than 60.
The president, prime minister and party leaders gathered in the city at a funeral for the victims of the attack, which came as families celebrated the Eid Al-Fitr holiday at the end of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.
"The best answer we as a nation can give is to form a (united) front and stand side by side, whatever our differences ... in the face of this act of terrorism," President Abdullah Gul told reporters after arriving in Gaziantep.
Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan lined up with other officials and said prayers in front of coffins wrapped in the red-and-white Turkish flag at a mosque in the city as tearful relatives looked on.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but some officials point the finger at the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militant group, whose 28-year-old conflict with the state has killed more than 40,000 people. The PKK denied involvement. Ankara is also investigating possible Syrian links to the blast, which has fueled fears that the uprising in Syria against President Bashar Assad could add to the instability in southeast Turkey.
A sharp rise in militant violence in Turkey this month has reinforced the belief among Turkish officials that the PKK is receiving weapons from Assad's forces.
Citing a PKK militant arrested by security forces in July, Hurriyet newspaper on Wednesday said the Gaziantep attack had been planned by a PKK member in charge of the group's operations in the region around the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. Gaziantep, 50 km (30 miles) from the Syrian border, has witnessed little of the trouble which has blighted much of the mainly Kurdish southeast since the PKK took up arms in 1984 with the aim of establishing an ethnic Kurdish state.
"There was never any terrorism here. The people embraced one another. They want to disturb the peace here," said Kemal Kilicdaroglu, leader of the main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP), urging cross-party cooperation to end the violence.
The city, one of Turkey's largest with a population of one million, has enjoyed growing affluence in recent years, thanks to an expanding industrial base and flourishing trade ties with Syria. The conflict across the border has now frozen those ties.
[Dawn] A warehouse of the United Nations ...a lucrative dumping ground for the relatives of dictators and party hacks... High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), located on Airport Road in the quiet provincial capital, gutted in fire on Wednesday afternoon.
A spokesperson to the UNHCR Balochistan ...the Pak province bordering Kandahar and Uruzgun provinces in Afghanistan and Sistan Baluchistan in Iran. Its native Baloch propulation is being displaced by Pashtuns and Punjabis and they aren't happy about it... , Javeria Tareen said, "Fire suddenly broke out in a warehouse of UNHCR located in Killi Gul Muhammad Airport road Quetta at about 4:30 pm," adding that as a result of fire, goods stored in the godown for Afghan refugees reduced to ash.
She said that no loss of life was reported in the fire.
Tareen said that investigation has been ordered to ascertain reasons of the fire. "Presently, we can not determine the cause whether a sabotage act is behind the fire eruption or internal electricity short circuit or any other reason caused the fire," she said.
The UNHCR spokesperson said that goods pertaining to humanitarian assistance to Afghan refugees including tents, blankets, medicines and other non-food items stored in the warehouse were burnt.
LANDIKOTAL: At least 10 people, including children and women, got injured in mortar shelling in Shalobar area of Bara Tehsil. According to details, a mortar shell, fired from unidentified location, landed in a house at Shalobar, which seriously wounded 10 people, including children and women, local sources said. It could not be ascertained who fired and where the mortar shell came from, sources added.
Shah Jehan Afridi, a spokesman of FATA Jamaat-e-Islami, strongly condemned the mortar shelling. He asked the government to take notice of the blind shelling of the mortars in Bara that has recently forced most of the people to flee Bara.
LANDIKOTAL: A bomb went off in a women's shopping store in KhugaKhel area of Landikotal on Monday. However, no casualty was reported in the blast, local sources said.
Some unidentified militants had already warned the owners of the general store not to sell women items like clothes, shoes, bangles and other products. They warned them to close their business.
Majority of the locals were of the view that the women general store has facilitated the local women to purchase items of their choice. It would be worth mentioning that the stores for women in Landikotal are also run by women.
That fact might have driven the local hard boyz over the edge...
After an explosion in a mobile shop, people said that it was an alarming situation and the area might once again become a hub of militants to sabotage the peaceful environment.
QUETTA: At least five people were kidnapped from Bolan and Pishin districts on Wednesday as lawlessness continues in the province. According to sources, at least three people were kidnapped from Bolan area while they were on picnic. The kidnapped persons were identified as Mohammad Khan, Lal Moham and Abdul Qadir belonging to the Rasinai tribe.
Bolan, which used to be an attractive picnic spot, has seen a decline in tourists in the last few years due to the prevailing lawlessness and rampant insurgencies in the province. Moreover, it is the area where Baloch militants usually attack security forces' convoys.
In another incident, two traders were kidnapped from Pishin area of Balochistan. According to sources, the traders, identified as Abdul Zarif and Mohammad Zahir, were on their way to Pishin from Quetta when unidentified persons intercepted their vehicle and kidnapped them at gunpoint.
Islamists : Sudan , Egypt & Palestine : Proposed Unification Merger With Trioka 3 Peace Guarantees With Special Development For All : Jerusalem ( Fatah & Hamas ) Controlled : With U/N : Egypt : Sudan & Palsetine ! Allah O Akbar
QUETTA: As many as two passersby were killed and 16 others, including five women and four children, were critically injured when a remote- controlled bomb went off near Musa Colony on Sariab Road on Tuesday.
According to police, the bombing occurred as a convoy of Frontier Corps (FC) was patrolling the area. The bomb was planted in a car. Soon after the convoy passed, the bomb exploded, killing a man on the spot and injuring 17 others.
"The FC personnel convoy escaped the attack because of a bomb jammer their vehicle was carrying," FC sources said.
Two rickshaws, a taxi and a motorcycle were destroyed and windows of many houses smashed.
"At least 20kg of explosives were used in the blast," the Bomb Disposal Squad officials said.
KARACHI: Seven people, including a political worker, fell prey to violence during three Eid days -- Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday- in the metropolis, while the law enforcers claimed to have apprehended two militants of an outlawed organisation from city's outskirts
An activist of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) was gunned down near his house within the limits of Pakistan Bazaar police station. The 45-year-old victim was identified as Shahid Siddiqui, son of Roshan Siddiqui. A police official informed that two armed men on a motorcycle sprayed Siddiqui with bullets as he stepped out of a barber's shop in Gulshan-e-Bihar, Orangi Town, on the first day of Eidul Fitr. He further informed that police suspect the murder to be an offshoot of current ethno-political rift between two sects.
Another man, Bakar Ali, 30, son of Wali Mohammad, was gunned down in Naval Colony, Baldia Town within the limits of Mauripur police station on the second day of Eidul Fitr. A police official informed that victim was in his Suzuki pickup when unidentified armed motorcyclists shot and killed him. He used to live in Ittehad Town, Baldia. The body was moved to the Civil Hospital Karachi for an autopsy and later handed over to the family.
Separately, 30-year-old Shafiq, son of Rafiq, was shot dead in North Karachi within Khwaja Ajmair Nagri police precincts. Police officials said that the deceased belonged to a Siraiki family and was labourer by profession. They said that at least two armed men, riding a motorcycle, shot and killed Shafiq while he slept outside the house. The body was moved to the Abbasi Shaheed Hospital (ASH) for medico-legal formalities. Police officials said that they were trying to ascertain the motive behind incident.
Separately, 32-year-old Aurangzaib, son of Azmat Khan, was gunned down outside his house near Manghopir Road within Pirabad police remit. Police officials said that the victim's family was not cooperating with them while the initial investigation suggested that he was killed by his brother. The body was moved to the ASH for an autopsy.
Moreover, the police discovered a youngster's body from Yousuf Haroon Road within the jurisdiction of Risala police station. The body was moved to the Civil Hospital where victim was identified as Noman alias Nomi, son of Ibrahim Baloch. Police officials said that Noman used to live in Baghdadi, Lyari and was shot dead after being kidnapped.
Body of an elderly woman was found from a shrubbery situated within the limits of Airport police station. Police retrieved the body after locals called them and shifted it to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. The victim was identified as 75-year-old Maher Bai, wife of Abdul Majeed. She hailed from Raheem Yar Khan and lately used to live at Jamali Colony, Gulshan-e-Iqbal. Police officials claimed that her husband, a drug addict, killed her with a sharp weapon.
Police found the body of a watchman from Orangi Town within the limits of Iqbal Market police station. The victim was identified as 55-year-old Khawer, son of Mumtaz. A police official said that the three-day old body was found inside a private school.
Meanwhile, the law enforcement agencies claimed to have apprehended two members of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a targeted raid carried out in Manghopir area. The suspected Taliban were apprehended on a tip-off while city's map, hand grenades and other weaponry were also recovered from their possession. The accused were allegedly planning to carry out a major terror activity on the occasion of Eidul Fitr.
[An Nahar] Syrian forces backed by helicopter gunships and tanks launched a deadly assault on parts of Damascus ...Capital of the last remaining Baathist regime in the world... on Wednesday, activists said, as the regime battles to stamp out rebel resistance in the capital.
At least 37 people were reported killed in Damascus alone, a day after a top minister hinted that the embattled regime was ready to discuss Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad The Scourge of Hama... 's exit in any talks on ending the brutal 17-month conflict.
Fighter jets and artillery hit Aleppo ...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins... and heavy shelling was reported in Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising, and the eastern town of Deir Ezzor while rebels claimed they seized parts of a town on the Iraq border, a watchdog said.
The army attacked several areas where anti-regime sentiment is strong in and around the southwest of Damascus, including with heavy shelling, helicopter fire and mass arrest sweeps, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
In the deadliest operation, the army raided the southwestern district of Kafr Sousa, killing at least 24 civilians, it said, while a pro-opposition journalist was also killed during a raid on his home in Damascus.
The violence, which erupted a day after dozens of people were reported killed during a funeral in a Damascus suburb and others summarily executed, was some of the worst since regime forces reclaimed most of the capital a month ago.
The Observatory said on Wednesday that dozens of bullet-riddled bodies were found in the suburb of Qaboon.
As the fighting raged, the United States and La Belle France again pushed for Assad to stand down quickly after a top Syrian official said on Tuesday that Damascus was ready to discuss his exit as part of a negotiated settlement to the conflict.
"As far as his resignation goes -- making the resignation itself a condition for holding dialogue means that you will never be able to reach this dialogue," Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil said in Moscow.
But he added: "Any problems can be discussed during negotiations. We are even ready to discuss this issue."
Moscow, however, bluntly told the West not to meddle in Syria after U.S. President Barack Obama They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them... hinted at possible military action if Damascus resorted to its chemical weapons arsenal.
"There should be no interference from the outside," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said after his talks with Jamil. "The only thing that foreign players should do is create conditions for the start of dialogue."
But Washington was unimpressed by the apparent overture from Damascus.
"We still believe that the faster Assad goes, the more chance there is to quickly move on to the day after," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said, dismissing Jamil's comments as "nothing terribly new".
At least 115 people including 71 non-combatants were killed nationwide on Wednesday, according to the Observatory, which says a more than 23,000 people have died since the uprising began in March 2011.
Among the latest casualties, four Lebanese villagers died in an air strike while fighting alongside the rebels, according to a security source in Leb.
The army claimed to have retaken most of Damascus in late July, after some two weeks of intense fighting across the southern belt.
Most rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters were forced out into the nearby countryside, but have since resumed some hit-and-run operations, activists say.
In Aleppo, fighter jets struck near a missile depot, and shelled several other areas of the city that has become the key battleground since fighting first erupted there a month ago, the Observatory said.
It also said rebel fighters had seized an intelligence office and checkpoints in the eastern town of Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, although regime forces remained largely in control.
At least 11 civilians were also killed in Daraa in the far south.
The Observatory has a network of activists on the ground but its claims cannot be independently verified.
Syrian forces appear to be increasingly resorting to attacks from the air, particularly in the Aleppo area as rebels continue to put up stiff resistance despite the regime's far superior military might.
An FSA commander said Tuesday the rebels now controlled 60 percent of Aleppo, but a security source in Damascus dismissed the claims.
The United Nations ...aka the Oyster Bay Chowder and Marching Society... puts the corpse count at 17,000 and says hundreds of thousands more have fled to Syria's neighbors while another 2.5 million still in the country are in desperate need of aid.
The conflict has spilled over again into neighboring Leb, with nine dead in festivities that first erupted late Monday between pro- and anti-Damascus regime supporters in the northern port city of Tripoli ...a confusing city, one end of thich is located in Lebanon and the other end of which is the capital of Libya. Its chief distinction is being mentioned in the Marine Hymn... "As the crisis in Syria continues to tank, the situation in Leb has become more precarious and the need for continued international support to the government and the Lebanese armed forces increasingly important," said U.N. under secretary general Jeffrey Feltman.
The international community has struggled to end the Syria conflict in the face of divisions between the West and Damascus's traditional allies in Moscow and Beijing.
Political sources in Damascus said Jamil was sent to Moscow to discuss a possible plan for a presidential election in which all candidates would be allowed to stand, including Assad.
French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault meanwhile said there was no question of Gay Paree becoming directly involved in military action without U.N. backing but acknowledged his country was providing rebels with "non-lethal" military aid.
Michael Totten, citing Daniel Pipes, on Assad's grandfather's thoughts about the Alawite dilemma:
the Alawites--and especially the Assad clan--may well try to carve out an enclave where they can be safe, just as many wished to do during the French imperial period between the two world wars. Back then, Alawite leaders asked French authorities for their own Lebanon-sized state along the Mediterranean, with Latakia as its capital. "The Alawites refuse to be annexed to Muslim Syria," Suleiman al-Assad, grandfather of the current Syrian president, wrote in a letter. "In Syria, the official religion of the state is Islam, and according to Islam, the Alawites are considered infidels. . . . The spirit of hatred and fanaticism imbedded in the hearts of the Arab Muslims against everything that is non-Muslim has been perpetually nurtured by the Islamic religion. There is no hope that the situation will ever change. Therefore, the abolition of the [French] mandate will expose the minorities in Syria to the dangers of death and annihilation."
DAMASCUS: Government forces stepped up blistering attacks in Damascus and Aleppo on Wednesday after the regime said it was ready to discuss President Bashar Assad's exit in any talks on ending Syria's brutal conflict.
At least 12 people were killed in a raid on a district of the capital, while fighter jets and artillery pummelled the northern city of Aleppo and rebels claimed seizing parts of a town on the Iraqi border, a watchdog said.
On Wednesday, the violence on the ground showed no let-up after a bloody day that saw at least 198 people killed nationwide, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Fighter jets hit a rebel-held neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo and shelled several other areas of the city that has become the key battleground since fighting erupted there a month ago, it said.
AFP reporters also said they heard explosions caused by what residents said were air strikes around the towns of Marea and Tal Rifaat, north of Aleppo.
Twelve people were also killed by troops in a raid on a Damascus district, the Observatory said, a day after it reported dozens killed when regime forces stormed another suburb of the capital and allegedly attacked a funeral procession.
It also said rebel fighters had seized control of an intelligence office and checkpoints in the eastern town of Bu Kamal on the Iraqi border.
Syrian forces appear to be increasingly resorting to attacks from the air, particularly in the Aleppo area as the rebels continue to put up stiff resistance on the ground despite the regime's far superior military might.
A top commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, said the rebels now controlled 60 percent of Aleppo, but a security source in Damascus dismissed the claims.