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MENAFN - Arab News - 21/11/2012

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(MENAFN - Arab News) UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday he feared that the militarization of the conflict in Syria could turn the country into a "regional battleground."

"We are deeply concerned about the continued militarization of the conflict, horrendous violations of human rights and the risk of Syria turning into a regional battleground as the violence intensifies," Ban said during a visit to Cairo.

He urged the international community to support the efforts of UN-Arab League envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi for "an inclusive Syrian led political transition that will address the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people."
As the humanitarian situation continues to deteriorate, Ban also appealed to countries "to generously contribute more to our humanitarian programs inside Syria and in the region and to assist Syria's neighbors in dealing with the refugee crisis."

Fresh fighting between Kurdish militiamen and Syrian rebels erupted yesterday in the northern Syria town of Ras Al-Ain, where dozens have died since the new front in Syria's complex civil war opened last week.
Elsewhere in northern Syria, several rebel battalions went on the offensive yesterday and attacked the Sheikh Suleiman air defense battalion west of Aleppo city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The clashes came less than two days after rebels, armed with at least five tanks according to a military source, took full control of the sprawling Base 46 in the same province. The Kurdish fighters are members of the People's Defense Units, the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) which is linked to Turkey's rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

Activists in Ras Al-Ain, located in the largely Kurdish province of Hasakeh, said that 35 Kurds were taken prisoner by the Gharba Al-Sham and Al-Nusra Front, while 11 insurgents were captured.

North and northeast Syria are home to most of the country's two million-strong Kurdish minority, who have mostly stayed out of the civil war leading to angry allegations by the opposition that they are cutting deals with President Bashar Assad's regime. Kurds question why the rebels entered a safe area, which they say is home to thousands of refugees who fled embattled areas of the country. Violence also erupted yesterday in the capital Damascus when the army shelled the southern Damascus district of Hajar Al-Aswad, the Observatory said, while state media reported that two mortars hit the ministry of information building.

Britain has officially recognized the fledgling Syrian National Coalition, Foreign Secretary William Hague said yesterday, giving the opposition group a degree of legitimacy that could make it easier to secure aid and arms.
"It is strongly in the interests of Syria, of the wider region and of the United Kingdom that we support them and deny space to extremist groups," Hague told Parliament.

"Her Majesty's government has decided to recognize the national coalition of Syrian revolution and opposition forces as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people," he added.

France recognized the group last week, and both London and Paris' endorsements appear to go further than Monday's EU-wide recognition of the coalition as the legitimate representatives of the "aspirations" of the Syrian people. Britain says no option is off the table, but Hague told Parliament that no decision had been taken to supply arms to the Syrian rebels. The EU currently has an arms embargo on Syria.

 






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