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Syrian rebels issue warning to Hezbollah

By Hamdi Alkshali and Mark Morgenstein, CNN
updated 5:42 AM EST, Thu February 21, 2013
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:
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 163 deaths from Syrian violence reported, including 48 in one aerial raid near Damascus
  • Syrian rebels' Facebook page warns Hezbollah to stop attacks from Lebanon
  • Syrian general, Lebanese former minister accused of plotting terror, moving explosives from Syria
  • The government blamed "terrorists" for an attack on Tishreen Sport City Stadium

(CNN) -- The nearly two-year-old Syrian civil war is threatening to spill over the country's borders into Lebanon.

Syrian rebels are warning Hezbollah militants to stop fighting on behalf of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad -- or face severe consequences.

A statement posted on the Free Syrian Army's Facebook page reads:

"We [FSA] are announcing and warning that if Hezbollah will not stop shelling the Syrian lands, villages and civilians from inside the Lebanese territories within 48 hours of issuance of this statement, we will respond to the sources of fire by our hands and eliminate it from inside the Lebanese lands. Wishing from our people in Hermel [a city in Lebanon near the Syrian border] to stay away from Hezbollah's rocket launchers and its military centers."

Are Syrian rebels becoming radicalized?
Who controls what in Syria?
Inside Syria's detention centers
Rebels close in on key Syrian airports

The Lebanese news agency NNA reported that former Lebanese information minister and parliament member Michel Samaha has been indicted, along with Syrian Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk, on charges of planning to carry out terrorist acts, preparing explosives and transferring the material from Syria to Lebanon.

The explosives were intended to be placed in public places in Lebanon to assassinate deputies, religious figures and political dignitaries, NNA said. Authorities are seeking the death penalty against the men.

Mamlouk is the head of Syrian national security and al-Assad's special security adviser. The United States has leveled sanctions against him, alleging human rights abuses and violence against civilians.

In October, Wissam Al-Hassan, the Lebanese chief of the Internal Security Forces Information Branch in charge of Samaha's case, was assassinated in a car bombing that rocked central Beirut, Lebanon.

At least 163 people were killed across Syria on Wednesday, including 19 children and eight women, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a consortium of opposition groups. The LCC says the most deadly location was Damascus and its suburbs, where 96 people died, including 48 people the LCC says were martyred during an alleged aerial massacre in Hamoria.

Video of that purported attack was posted on YouTube. That's a common communication tactic for the rebels, since the al-Assad regime has cracked down on freedom of the press, largely preventing CNN and other international news agencies from newsgathering.

In Damascus on Wednesday, two mortar shells hit a sports stadium, killing a soccer player, Syria's state-run news agency said.

The shells fell on Tishreen Sport City Stadium in the al-Baramkeh neighborhood of the capital, the Syrian Arab News Agency said. The player was training at the time, the report said.

The explosions wounded several other players and team staff, SANA reported.

The government blamed "terrorists" for the attack.

Throughout the civil war in Syria, as the government has brutally cracked down on the opposition, al-Assad's administration has continuously blamed "terrorists" for violence.

READ: Syria death toll probably at 70,000, U.N. official says

The Free Syrian Army rebel group said it downed a government MiG aircraft that launched strikes on the city of Zamalka. That attack also was posted to YouTube.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi said Wednesday that the government is hoping for more dialogue with the opposition, and was reaching out to "all Syrians inside and abroad." He promised the Assad regime would provide "guarantees and logistic tools for the opposition behind borders, to facilitate the participation of those who wish to take part in a profound, serious dialogue."

Al-Zoubi told a Baath party leadership meeting in Damascus that the government desired talks "even if violence continues, as it will as it will decrease the extent of violence," and help the state "in applying law and consolidating security."

Saad Abedine contributed to this report from Abu Dhabi; Hamdi Alkshali contributed to this report from Atlanta and Mark Morgenstein wrote from Atlanta.

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