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Jordanian soldier killed in clash on border with Syria

October 22, 2012 |  9:24 am

A Jordanian soldier was killed in clashes with an armed group on the Syrian border, according to Jordan's official Petra news agency
BEIRUT -- A Jordanian soldier was killed Sunday night in clashes with an armed group on the Syrian border, according to Jordan's official Petra news agency.

Eight armed people were attempting to illegally cross into Jordan from Syria when fighting broke out between them and members of the Jordanian armed forces, the news agency reported, quoting an anonymous official from the military.

One member of the armed group was critically injured, and all eight were arrested.

"Another armed Takfiri group using Kalashnikov rifles and guns tried to cross the border," the official told the news agency, using a term that refers to an extremist Muslim ideology that accuses others of being infidels.

Meanwhile in Syria, clashes between Free Syrian Army rebels and regime forces continued across the country and government helicopters and warplanes barraged several cities, including parts of Aleppo and the western suburbs of Damascus. In the suburb of Harasta, the town was in its third day of continuous shelling by artillery and MiG warplanes and many civilians have been killed, activists said.

In the northern city of Maarat Numan, shelling was ongoing Monday, and one activist said that at one point there were two mortar rounds falling every minute. Maarat Numan has been bombarded for almost two weeks, since rebels launched an offensive against military checkpoints around the city, which is strategically located on the main highway between Aleppo and Damascus.

Most of the residents have fled and those remaining are unsure where they can seek safety.

"The people are not knowing whether they should seek shelter in the basements or in the streets, if they hide in the basements and they drop a TNT barrel bomb, they will be buried under all the rubble," said Ahmad Halabi, an activist in the city. "We don't really have any safe areas left in Idlib [province]."

The continuing violence comes a day after Lakhdar Brahimi, the United Nations and Arab League envoy to the conflict, met with Syrian President Bashar Assad in an attempt to broker a cease-fire for the upcoming Eid Al-Adha holiday. Few observers expect the effort to be successful, and an Arab League official told Reuters news service that "hope is weak."


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-- Times staff

Photo: A citizen journalist's photo shows a damaged street Saturday in Maarat Numan, the site of ongoing clashes between rebels and government forces in Syria. Credit: Idlib News Network / Associated Press