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Syrian government details fierce combat; call for dialogue slammed

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 9:41 PM EDT, Tue October 2, 2012
Syrian National Council spokesman George Sabra told CNN no Syrian would
Syrian National Council spokesman George Sabra told CNN no Syrian would "sit down" with the government.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Overnight bombardment reported in Homs
  • Dissident spokesman: The Syrian military continues "systematic killing spree"
  • State newspaper: Security operations are almost over in Harasta
  • An opposition group puts the death toll in the 19-month crisis at about 28,000

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

(CNN) -- Syria saw no respite Tuesday as government forces targeted "terrorist gatherings," seized explosive devices and stormed an ammunition-laden warehouse, according to state media.

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) detailed a litany of operations across the country, including in Aleppo, Lattakia and Homs.

"Heroic armed forces" detected and disabled improvised explosive devices in the Damascus province city of Harasta, the state Al-Baath newspaper said, predicting the imminent demise of "terrorists" in the area.

"... Here we are witnessing the security operation in its last hours," Al-Baath said.

In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war: In this photo provided by the anti-government activist group Aleppo Media Center, Syrian men help survivors out of a building in Aleppo after it was bombed, allegedly by a Syrian regime warplane on Saturday, February 8. The United Nations estimates more than 100,000 people have been killed since the Syrian conflict began in March 2011. Click through to see the most compelling images taken during the conflict, which is now a civil war:
Syrian civil war in photos
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Syrian civil war in photos Syrian civil war in photos

Yet deadly violence flared nearby and across the country.

Tariq Ahmed, an opposition activist in Homs, said early Wednesday that the old city of Homs and other areas were under bombardment. A number of people were killed and wounded, he said. Clashes were reported near a Homs castle.

Khalil Ma'touk, a prominent human rights lawyer, was detained by security forces, according to the opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

At least 160 people were killed Tuesday, including 54 in Damascus and its suburbs, the opposition Local Coordination Committees of Syria said. Another 30 died in Aleppo and 29 in Daraa.

The LCC says the total number of civilians and opposition fighters killed in the conflict has reached roughly 28,000.

More than 24,000 of them were civilians, the activist group said. Thousands of Syrian troops have also reportedly been killed.

CNN is unable to independently confirm casualty reports as the Syrian government has severely limited the access of international journalists.

Opposition slams Syria's call for dialogue

A Syrian opposition spokesman lambasted the government's call for dialogue Tuesday, marking yet another stalemate in the country's 19-month deadly conflict.

"No Syrian is willing to sit down with any of these killers in the Syrian government who have been responsible for every single drop of blood that have been shed in Syria," Syrian National Council spokesman George Sabra told CNN from Paris.

"From day one, the regime played the same tune, call(ing) for political solution while ordering mass killing all across the homeland. They keep putting themselves in a political corner ... while their military keeps its systematic killing spree, murdering hundreds of innocent men and women every single day."

At the U.N. General Assembly on Monday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Moallem made his call for a dialogue and accused other states of promoting "terrorism" in his country.

More: Video appears to show missing U.S. journalist

Moallem slammed international calls for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, saying such rhetoric amounts to a "blatant interference in the domestic affairs of Syria, and the unity of its people and its sovereignty."

Video appears to show missing journalist
Syria violence rages on
Official: Syria a victim of terrorism

The region: Mounting refugee crisis divides Turkey

Syria's civil war is now a heated political issue inside Turkey, a country that has been sympathetic toward Syrian dissidents and has hosted more than 93,000 refugees -- more than any other neighboring country.

Some protesters have taken to the streets of Antakya to decry their country's handling of the Syrian civil war.

The Turkish government seems to be bowing to domestic pressure from some Turks who are fed up with the Syrian refugees and angry at Turkish government support for Syrian rebels.

More: Thousands displaced as authorities demolish entire neighborhood

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed this week to continue supporting the Syrian opposition, but appears to be backpedaling on his pledge to keep an open border to fleeing Syrians.

Meanwhile, thousands of Syrians have been stuck for weeks in squalid conditions at a Turkish border fence, begging to be let in.

Turkish police are going house to house in Antakya, telling Syrian refugees who have rented homes to either move into a refugee camp or return to their war-torn country.

Turkish officials at the local and national level of government confirmed that authorities were pushing Syrian refugees toward the camps.

"We are trying to guide and suggest people who arrived legally or 'illegally' to go either into the camps, if they have arrived illegally, or suggesting the others to move to nearby or different cities," said a Turkish official, who asked not to be named because he was not authorized to be interviewed by the press.

Analysis: Sympathy, but few solutions, for Syria

Background

The Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011 after unarmed protesters, inspired by the success of popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, took to the streets demanding political reform.

The movement devolved into an armed conflict after a brutal and continuing crackdown by government forces.

Foreign Minister Moallem spoke Monday to the U.N. General Assembly just days after world leaders painted a grim picture of the conflict.

Syria has dominated much of the General Assembly discussion -- on stage and on the sidelines -- as world leaders struggle to find a way to resolve the war that has left the Security Council hopelessly deadlocked, with China and Russia opposing some of the toughest measures proposed.

The Security Council has been paralyzed by a division over how to halt the killing in Syria. Russia and China have blocked resolutions calling for al-Assad to transfer power and step down, saying the issue should be settled by Syrians.

Germany has slammed the U.N. Security Council for failure to act, and the United States, Britain and France announced they are backing increased support of non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition.

CNN's Saad Abedine, Samira Said and Holly Yan in Atlanta and Ivan Watson at the Turkish-Syrian border contributed to this report.

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