- - Sunday, December 18, 2011


Troops kill 14 civilians in anti-government protests

BEIRUT — Armed clashes erupted in Syria Sunday, killing at least 14 civilians and six government troops in central and northern Syria, activists said in the latest sign that the nation’s uprising may be deteriorating into civil war.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said an army officer was among the six soldiers killed in the town of Qusair in Homs province, near the border with Lebanon.

Heavy gun battles were also reported Sunday in several villages in the restive Jabal al-Zawiya region in the northern Idlib province near the Turkish border, where many defectors are believed to be operating.

The Observatory and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria activist network said at least 14 civilians were killed in clashes and shootings by security forces toward civilian areas in the Homs region, as well as the Jabal al-Zawiya area and the town of Maaret al-Numan in the north.

Syria has seen a sharp escalation in armed clashes recently, raising concerns the country of 22 million is slipping toward civil war nine months into the uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad.


Islamists demand cutting ties with United States

ISLAMABAD — More than 30,000 Islamists rallied against the United States in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Sunday, demanding Islamabad cut off ties with Washington following NATO airstrikes last month that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers.

The protest highlighted the ability of hard-liners to bring their supporters into the streets, as well as the lasting anger over the Nov. 26 attack, which has complicated U.S. efforts to enlist Pakistan’s cooperation on the Afghan war.

Washington has expressed condolences for the NATO airstrikes that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers at two army posts along the Afghan border and has promised to carry out an investigation.

Jamaat-ud-Dawa is widely considered to be the front group for Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organization that was started with help from the Pakistani government to fight archenemy India.

Lashkar-e-Taiba is blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai that killed 166 people.


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