Syrian Forces Retaking Rebellious Town

Posted October 1st, 2011 at 10:30 am (UTC-5)
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Syrian forces appear to be regaining control of the central town of Rastan, where troops have engaged in several days of intense fighting with army defectors who sided with the opposition.

Rights groups said Saturday that troops had pushed into the town and had begun conducting searches for the deserters.

The head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says government forces have retaken most of the town, which is about 180 kilometers north of Damascus.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition groups are meeting in Turkey on Saturday in an effort to form an alliance against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Opposition figures and activists say the groups hope to agree on the framework of an alliance within the next few days.

Mr. Assad has been facing growing international condemnation for his crackdown on dissent. The United Nations says the crackdown has killed at least 2,700 people since mass protests started in March.

However, Syria has blamed much of the deadly unrest on armed “terrorist” groups. The state-run SANA news agency says funerals were held on Saturday for 13 security force members and civilians who were killed by terrorist groups near Damascus and in the Homs region.