The Straits Times
Published on Oct 13, 2012

Syria army takes pounding as Turkey tensions rise


DAMASCUS (AFP) - The army has taken a pounding at the hands of rebels in northern Syria, a monitoring group said on Friday, as tensions between Damascus and Ankara escalated over cargo seized from a Syrian passenger plane.

A rebel offensive killed more than 130 soldiers in two days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, while more than 250 troops were taken prisoner as the insurgents advanced.

41 soldiers were among at least 96 people killed nationwide on Friday, including 28 civilians, the watchdog said. On Thursday alone the army suffered 92 losses - its highest daily total in the 19-month conflict.

As fighting raged on the ground, a war of words between Syria and Turkey grew angrier after Ankara said military supplies were on an airliner it intercepted en route from Moscow to Damascus.