Syrian troops seize hotbed town
Syria: Syrian troops on Sunday seized the flashpoint northern town of
Jisr al-Shughur, state television said, as international outrage mounted
at the regime’s harsh crackdown on protesters.
Rights activists had earlier reported heavy gunfire and explosions in
the town near the Turkish border after troops backed by helicopter
gunships and around 200 tanks launched a two-pronged assault early on
State television said the army now completely controlled Jisr al-Shughur
and that troops were pursuing “armed elements” into the woods and nearby
Official media also reported the discovery of a mass grave in the
town containing the mutilated bodies of 10 security agents whose hands,
head and feet had been cut off.
“Armed groups had mutilated the corpses which were removed from the
mass grave,” the broadcaster said.
It said the army entered the town “after defusing dynamite placed on
the bridges and roads by the armed groups”.
It added: “two armed men were killed and many more arrested, with
machine guns also seized.”
Rights activists told AFP by telephone that the army had bombarded
Jisr al-Shughur before entering the town, which was largely deserted
after thousands of people fled ahead of the expected onslaught.
“The army started at about 7:00 am (0400 GMT) to shell the town
intensively with tanks and heavy weaponry before launching an assault
from the east and south,” one activist said. “Explosions were heard and
helicopter gunships patrolled over the city.”
Another activist, citing residents, said explosions had been heard
throughout the morning and columns of smoke could be seen rising from