Armed men set forests ablaze in northern Syrian town
DAMASCUS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- A pro-government news website said armed groups are setting forests on fire in the mountainous area of Hafeh near coastal Latakia city to frame the Syrian army of bombarding the area, as activists said the Syrian army has renewed bombardment of Hafeh Sunday.
The pro-government website, Ajel network, said armed groups have detonated a number of houses also in Hafeh Sunday morning, adding that the rebels might be setting the stage for another massacre to leverage it against the Syrian army.
A day earlier, Syria's state media said that Syrian troops clashed with armed groups in Hafeh Saturday, killing and rounding up a number of them and still chasing remnants of others.
Armed groups in Hafeh town have attacked and set ablaze public and private properties, said state-run SANA news agency, adding that a number of people have been brutally killed by those gunmen.
Meanwhile, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian forces mounted a new offensive on the unrest- stricken Hafeh with heavy shelling.
It said the army had received reinforcements to carry on with the clashes.
Hafeh has been the center of clashes between the armed rebels and government troops since last Tuesday. Witnesses said the rebels have taken over the town and setup bases there, adding that they had burnt a brunch of the ruling al-Baath party in addition to three army tanks.
Activists said that around 58 army men were killed during the clashes in the mountainous area. On Saturday, Syria's state media said that 57 army soldiers were laid to rest, however, spelling no details about the whereabouts of the clashes that led to their killing.
The armed rebels have ramped up their assaults on government troops lately, bringing the fighting to the capital Damascus that witnessed Friday one of the most intense fighting that spread to a number of neighborhoods.
The Syrian crisis has grown more militarized recently despite pledges by both sides of the conflict to stick with the peace plan negotiated by UN-Arab League joint envoy Kofi Annan.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said as many as 83 civilians were killed Saturday, blaming the bulk of the death on the Syrian troops.
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