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Ambush kills 120 policemen in Syria; Saleh recovering
Damascus/ Sanaa/tripoli, Jun 7 (AFP/ Agencies):
Published on 8 Jun. 2011 12:02 AM IST
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120 policemen were killed by “armed gangs” in the northwest Syrian town of Jisrash Shugur where security forces have been carrying out operations for three days, state television said on Monday.
“The armed groups are committing a veritable massacre. They have mutilated bodies and thrown others into the Assi river,” the broadcaster said. “They have burned government buildings.”
Human rights groups say at least 35 people have been killed there since Saturday.
The TV says armed groups in the area carried out a “massacre.” It said the groups ambushed police and security forces, blew up the post office, torched government buildings and mutilated bodies. Thirty-seven were killed at a security post, the report said. There was no independent confirmation of the claims.
Communications appeared to have been cut to the area on Monday, but there have been unconfirmed reports in the past by residents and activists of Syrians fighting back against security forces. Monday’s state television report said the officers were ambushed as they responded to calls from residents for protection from the armed groups. It said 20 policemen were initially killed, and then the groups blew up a post office and killed a number of other security forces.
The report said the armed groups were hiding in homes and firing at soldiers and civilians alike, using residents as human shields in an ongoing shootout. In the eastern town of Deir Ezzor, security forces shot at protesters marching in front of a building of the ruling Baath party, killing three of them, Rahman said.
Yemen’s President Ali Abdullah Saleh will return from medical treatment in Saudi Arabia in days, the acting leader said on Monday as thousands celebrated what they hope will be a new era without him. Diplomats and analysts feel Saleh’s stay in Saudi Arabia, where he had surgery for shrapnel wounds suffered in an attack on his palace on Friday, might be prolonged as regional heavyweight Riyadh tries to broker a power transition deal to prevent the implosion of its neighbour. International pressure has mounted on all parties to find a way to end clashes bringing Yemen to the brink of civil war due to worries it could become a failed state home to an al-Qaeda wing next to the world’s biggest oil exporter, Saudi Arabia. A Saudi-brokered truce was holding in Sanaa after two weeks of fighting between Saleh’s forces and a powerful tribal group in which more than 200 people were killed and thousands fled.
But there was fresh fighting in the flashpoint southern city of Taiz, where the United Nations said it was investigating reports that as many as 50 have been killed in the past week. An opposition party coalition, which joined months of street protests to end Saleh’s three-decade rule, said it backed transferring power to the vice-president, Abu-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who is now the acting leader.
Hadi was quoted as saying on the Saba state news agency that Saleh’s health was improving and he “would return to the homeland in the coming days”. The United States made clear on Monday it wants Yemen’s government to seize on the absence of President Ali Abdullah Saleh to try to effect a peaceful, orderly political transition.
Diplomats and analysts believe Saleh’s stay in Saudi Arabia might be prolonged as the regional heavyweight tries to broker a power transition to prevent the implosion of its neighbor. International pressure has mounted on all parties to find a way to end clashes bringing Yemen to the brink of civil war due to worries it could become a failed state home to an al-Qaeda wing next to Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter.
“(Saleh) is in Saudi Arabia receiving medical treatment. There is a civilian government that remains in place in Yemen. We believe that the time is now to begin that peaceful transition toward a democratic process,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters.
Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said security in the besieged city had become unstable after an attack by opposition tribesmen on the residence of President Ali Abdullah Saleh that left several people dead.
NATO planes bombed the Tripoli compound of Libyan leader Muamer Qaddafi for the second time on Tuesday, a witness said. There was fire in the Bab al—Aziziya compound and heavy black smoke was seen coming out, he added. The whereabouts of Col. Qaddafi, who turns 69 on Tuesday, are not known. His son Saif al—Arab was killed in a NATO airstrike on the compound on April 30.
Four explosions were heard earlier in the day in the Libyan capital, three of them in Bab al—Aziziya. Witnesses said that attacks were also targeting intelligence offices in central Tripoli. The airstrikes began at the end of March under a United Nations Security Council resolution reinforcing a no—fly zone to ensure the safety of civilians in the conflict between Col. Qaddafi’s forces and rebels. Protests against Col. Qaddafi, who has been in power for 42 years, began in mid—February, but soon turned into an armed conflict following a lethal government crackdown on demonstrators. The attack comes after Mikhail Margelov, Russia’s special envoy on Africa, arrived in the rebel—stronghold of Benghazi for talks with the opposition.
He is scheduled to meet with members of the Interim Transitional National Council (ITNC).
The visit is seen as a further isolation of the embattled Qaddafi and his regime, as it comes following a similar visit by a Chinese envoy. The Chinese ambassador to Qatar recently met the chairman of the ITNC, Mustafa Abdul—Jalil.
Both China and Russia have maintained good relations with Col. Qaddafi since he took power in a 1969 coup.
The pair of veto—holding permanent members of the UN Security Council were both opposed to NATO’s airstrikes on military installations controlled by Col. Qaddafi.

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