Syria Clashes Kill 90; Regime Tells Japan to Cancel Meeting

At least 90 people were killed in Syria yesterday while President Bashar al-Assad’s regime told Japan to cancel its plan to meet with other nations about further sanctions against his country.

Syrian troops loyal to Assad killed 90 people yesterday including 43 in or around Damascus, the opposition Local Coordination Committees said in an e-mailed statement. Other raids took place in the cities of Homs and Hama, the U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said in an e-mail.

More than 29 soldiers died in explosions and clashes with rebels seeking to topple Assad, the Observatory said in an e-mail. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said three car bombings by “terrorists” in the city of Daraa killed seven people.

Syria demanded that Japan scrap the meeting in Tokyo late this month at which international delegates will consider proposals to strengthen sanctions, according to SANA, which reported the government in Damascus has cited worsening living conditions for Syrians in its appeal. No date has been set for the meeting of officials from about 60 nations in the Friends of Syria group, Agence France-Presse said.

Assad vowed not to flee Syria and said the cost of any Western military operation in Syria would be “more than the whole world can afford,” in an interview with Russian state broadcaster RT in Damascus that was aired Nov. 9. More than 35,000 people have died since the uprising began in March 2011, the Observatory for Human Rights group said.

Thousands Flee

Fighting between troops and rebels for control of the town of Ras al-Ayn sparked a surge in the number of Syrians fleeing into neighboring countries, the Associated Press reported Nov. 9, citing United Nations officials. About 9,000 refugees crossed into Turkey, with Jordan and Lebanon each taking another 1,000 Syrians in the previous 24 hours, the officials said, according to AP.

Kurdish rebels in the Syrian province of Hassaka have captured two towns after government troops left, the Observatory group said in an e-mail.

The rebels’ Free Syrian army captured the border town of Asfar al-Najjar in Hassaka province after heavy fighting against the government forces, Al Jazeera television reported, citing activists.

The main opposition bloc, the Syrian National Council, elected dissident George Sabra, a Christian who had been imprisoned by the regime, as its leader at a meeting Nov. 9 in Doha, AP reported. Rival opposition groups are in talks in the Qatari capital to create a more unified organization that can defeat Assad, AP said.

Sabra yesterday resisted efforts to unite all Assad’s opponents under one umbrella, saying “nobody should be subsumed under anybody” in his inaugural news conference, the New York Times reported.

Assad and most of his top officials come from the Alawite sect, affiliated with Shiite Islam. The majority of Syria’s population and many leaders of the uprising are Sunni Muslims.

Jordan has increased its support for the Syrian opposition, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing unidentified rebels and an Arab official. Jordanian military trucks have been used to deliver light weapons, paid for by Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to the border for shipment into Syria by anti-Assad fighters, the Journal cited the people as saying. Jordan denied involvement in arms shipments into Syria, the newspaper said.

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