Syrian forces, rebels in deadly clash on Mediterranean coast

Ship
BEIRUT -– Syrian government forces and rebels clashed off the country’s Mediterranean shore Saturday, reportedly leaving several dead on both sides.

Syrian state media reported that an "armed terrorist group" on inflatable boats staged an attack on a military unit stationed north of the coastal city of Lattakia, about 20 miles from the Turkish border.

The coastal fighting raised the specter of a prolonged conflict, even as United Nations monitors try to calm the unrest in a 13-month uprising. 

But the 2-week-old cease-fire appears to have all but fallen apart, with violence continuing to plague much of the country.

The fighting came a day after the Lebanese army intercepted a ship loaded with weapons that may have been intended for Syrian rebel fighters, security sources told Reuters.

The ship was seized Friday off the country’s Mediterranean coast as it was on its way to Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, Reuters reported. The ship, which had sailed from Libya, had three freight containers of rocket-propelled grenades and rifles.

For weeks, Syrian rebels had spoken of a weapons shipment expected from Libya to help oust President Bashar Assad, but it was unclear whether the promise would be similar to other, unfulfilled pledges for military support.

On Friday, a suicide bombing in Damascus killed nine people even as the head of a United Nations monitoring mission headed to Syria to oversee an eventual team of 300 observers. 

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-- From Times Staff

Photo: The vessel Lutfallah II is docked at a Lebanese navy base after it was intercepted near the Lebanese coast. Lebanese authorities found weapons on board the ship that may have been headed to Syrian rebels. Credit: Wael Hamzeh / EPA

 
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