Fresh fighting at the border with Iraq

Abu Kamal near the border with Iraq in Syria’s east has erupted into intense firefights with heavy fighting reported during the last few days.

According to the local media, the army may be preparing a full-scale operation in the town, similar to ones that happened in Jisr Al-Shaghour, Maraat Al-Numan and Tel Kalakh in recent months.

The government blamed “terrorists” for fomenting violence by attacking government buildings including the local court house and said two riot police officers were killed and another two kidnapped.

According to news agency UPI six people in total have been killed and two were security forces meaning four civilians may have been killed in clashes there.

Tanks and infantry have already started to enter the city, reported Al-Watan. The newspaper said the government is fearful of an armed movement taking root along Syria’s borders and further isolating the regime.

Opposition conference in Turkey criticised

An opposition conference intended to establish a ‘shadow government’ convened in Istanbul on Saturday has come under heavy criticism from the Syrian authorities.

A meeting of opposition figures was due to in Damascus with a video link to a twin conference in Istanbul. But the so-called National Salvation meeting in Damascus was cancelled because of a security crackdown on an anti-government protest outside the building where the meeting was due to be held.

Al-Watan said the conferences “cannot be separated from violence against civilians and security forces”, referring to alleged deaths at the hands of unidentified armed gangs.

Government sources told the newspaper the “conference failed to rescue its own rescue conference”, a criticism of divisions in the opposition movement. Kurdish participants in the Istanbul conference walked out because they said they were being marginalised and their demands not heard.

Members of the Damascus Declaration and an organization headed by Burhan Ghalioun rejected the final plans for creating a government-in-waiting because it would make them lose touch with protesters on the street.

Local media says ‘normal life’ returning to Hama

The new governor of Hama, Anas Abdul Razaq Na’em has made extensive efforts to negotiate a settlement with protesters in Hama, according to local media sources.

According to the reports, roadblocks in the restive city have been removed and the local authority is removing the remaining roadblocks and detritus in cooperation with residents.

Sources quoted by international media however painted a less rosy picture of the first days of the governor’s new job. Unconfirmed reports said he was shouted at and pelted with rubbish when he appeared in public and had to be bundled into a car by his bodyguards.

The governor apparently made a deal where the authorities, according to Al-Watan, would ensure security forces “would not shoot protesters in exchange for ending civil disobedience and not protest again.”

Syria Today (Syria)