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Syrian violence continues as UN envoy steps up diplomacy


15:56, December 26, 2012

BEIJING, Dec. 26 (Xinhua) -- Syrian government troops were defending an ancient citadel in the southern province of Daraa on Tuesday when UN-Arab League special envoy Lakhdar Brahimi was in the unrest-stricken country groping for ways to end its crisis.

Syrian troops repelled an attack by armed militia against Busra al-Sham Citadel in Daraa, inflicting heavy casualties among the assailants, Syria's state-run SANA news agency said.

Quoting a military source in Daraa, SANA said all the armed militia had been either killed or wounded and their weapons destroyed.

In the capital Damascus, a mortar shell struck the neighborhood of Rukin Addien Tuesday, killing one person, injuring 10 others and damaging several cars, local media said.

To the north, rebels stormed the town of Harem near the Turkish border Tuesday morning and managed to push inside after surrounding it for weeks and reportedly killing several people. The town is said to be loyal to President Bashar al-Assad.

Activists said the last post to fall in the hands of the rebels was the town's old citadel that overlooks Harem, a town of 20,000 in Idlib province.

Also on Tuesday, the Syrian army accused armed rebels of massacring civilians in the central province of Hama. The Syrian army's general command said military units had confronted armed groups attacking several towns in Hama and committing massacres against civilians.

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