Crisis in Syria

Civil war spreads as rebels detain U.N. personnel, attack Syrian troops in Iraq

Syrian Rebels (AP)
• March 7, 2013 4:59 am


The civil war in Syria is spreading with rebel attacks against U.N. positions in the Golan Heights and against Syrian government troops that had fled to Iraq.

Rebel fighters detained 20 U.N. peacekeepers in the Golan Heights Wednesday just days after Israeli diplomats warned the United Nations that the Jewish State could not "stand idle" as the Syrian conflict spreads.

The rebel action against the U.N. workers came on the heels of an attack Monday on Syrian government forces that had fled across the Iraqi border. More than 40 government troops were killed as the Iraqi military was returning them to Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed confidence that weapons were flowing to Syrian rebels from countries other than the United States during a Tuesday press conference in Doha with the Qatari prime minister.

"We had a discussion about the types of weapons that are being transferred and by whom," Kerry said. "We did discuss the question of the ability to try to guarantee that it's going to the right people and to the moderate Syrian opposition coalition."

The United States has so far limited its support for the rebels to nonlethal aid.

Syrian rebels also announced the capture of the northern city of Raqqa on Monday. The regional capital is the first city to be overtaken fully by the rebels since the civil war broke out in the spring of 2011.

The death toll of the Syrian civil war is estimated at more than 70,000 lives. One million refugees have fled to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and elsewhere.

The official Twitter account of President Barack Obama released a photo Wednesday of the president frolicking in the snow with his daughters.

Published under: Middle East