Wednesday, June 13, 2012
BEIRUT Syrian forces pushed out scores of rebels holed up in an area near the Mediterranean coast Wednesday and state television said they retook control of the region following eight days of fierce shelling and clashes.
The mountainous Haffa region is one of several areas where government forces are battling rebels for control in escalating violence. Recovering it is particularly important to the regime because the town is about 20 miles from President Bashar Assad’s hometown of Kardaha in Latakia province. Latakia is the heartland of the Alawite minority to which Assad and the ruling elite belong, although there is a mix of religious groups there.
France said Syria is already in a civil war, echoing a similar statement by U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous on Tuesday.
The new French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told a news conference in Paris: “If you can’t call it a civil war, then there are no words to describe it.”
Earlier, Syria’s Foreign Ministry expressed “astonishment” over Ladsous’ statement that the country was already in a civil war. The ministry said it lacked objectivity, was “far from reality” and inaccurate.
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