Activists: Syrian Rebels Capture Northern Town Near Turkey
by VOA News December 25, 2012
Syrian rights activists say rebels have captured a northern town near the border with Turkey, driving out government troops after a siege that lasted several weeks.
The activists say the rebels seized the last military base in the Idlib provincial town of Harem early Tuesday, extending rebel control over northern areas adjacent to Turkey. There was no independent confirmation because Syria restricts reporting by foreign journalists.
International peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi continued his visit to Damascus Tuesday, meeting members of an opposition group tolerated by the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
After the talks, the head of the National Coordination Body for Democratic Change said Brahimi briefed the delegation on his efforts to secure an American-Russian agreement on resolving Syria's 21-month long conflict. Hassan Abdul Azim expressed support for what he called a moderate and political solution that would 'rescue the Syrian people.'
Azim's group is not part of the exiled Syrian National Coalition that recently won recognition from more than 110 states as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people.
The six member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council were among those to recognize the exiled coalition. After holding a summit in the Bahraini capital, Manama, they issued a statement Tuesday, urging the international community to take quick and serious action to stop massacres in Syria. The GCC also called for humanitarian aid to be sent to the Syrian people.
GCC member Kuwait said Monday it plans to host an international conference in late January to try to solve Syria's growing humanitarian crisis. Speaking on the sidelines of the Manama summit, Kuwaiti leader Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon originally proposed the conference.
U.N.-Arab League envoy Brahimi met with Assad on Monday, saying afterward that he remains worried about the Syrian conflict and providing no signs of any breakthrough. Syria's state news agency SANA quoted the president as saying he supports any peace effort that protects Syria's sovereignty and independence.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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