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Syria denies using helicopter gunships, tanks in operation on central Traimseh town

(Xinhua)

15:04, July 17, 2012

Jihad Makdessi, the spokesman of the Syrian Foreign Ministry, speaks during the press conference in Damascus, Syria, July 15, 2012. He denied the use of helicopter gunships and tanks in the army operation on the carnage-hit town of Traimseh last week, saying what happened was not a massacre but clashes between the Syrian troops and armed groups. (Xinhua/Hazim)

DAMASCUS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Syrian foreign ministry spokesman denied the use of helicopter gunships and tanks in the army operation on the carnage-hit town of Traimseh last week, saying what happened was not a massacre but clashes between the Syrian troops and armed groups.

On Thursday, scores of people in Traimseh got killed in a carnage, the circumstances of which were murky with both the government and the opposition trading accusations.

The Syrian government said army troops carried out a qualitative operation in the village against armed groups, upon the request of the residents who were terrorized by the gunmen in that area.

In a briefing Sunday, Jihad Makdissi said that what happened at Traimseh last Thursday wasn't a massacre but rather a "military operation between the army forces and armed groups that have slapped against the wall" the six-point plan of the UN-Arab League joint special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan.

"What had been said about the use of heavy weapons was baseless, " he said, adding that "what happened wasn't an attack on civilians."

He said only light weapons were used, including RPGs, adding that the air force wasn't involved in the operation and neither did the tanks, contrary to what the UN observers said about the use of helicopters in the army operations.

He said the gunmen had fully controlled the village which was turned into a launching pad to mount attacks against security and army forces.

He quoted what he called an old local who was present during the burial of the dead in the town as saying that only 37 gunmen and two civilians were killed in the attack which he said had lasted for a few hours.

He added that only five buildings that were used as headquarters for armed groups were targeted during the attack. Those buildings contained weapon stores and torture and detention centers.


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