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Syria

Syria calls on the UN for sanctions against al Qaeda

Syria’s Foreign Ministry has complained to the UN about al Qaeda activities in the country. Meanwhile, the Syrian army forces have reportedly killed at least 45 people, mostly civilians, in the country's south.

Syria's Foreign Ministry complained to the United Nations and the UN Security Council on Thursday about al Qaeda's activities in the country.

The complaint came a day after the leader of the most formidable rebel group, the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, pledged allegiance to al Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri. This bolsters claims by al-Assad's regime that for the last two years it has been fighting "terrorists" who want to impose an Islamic state.

In a letter to the United Nations, the ministry said it "expects the Security Council to fulfill its role and preserve global security," and classify the Al-Nusra Front as an al Qaeda-linked group, state media reported.

UN sanctions are are already in place to punish individuals and entities linked to al Qaeda, by freezing assets, banning travel and imposing an embargo on arms destined for the terror network.

The rebel group's pledge of allegiance has also deepened Western concerns that weapons could fall into the wrong hands.

The US and EU are currently providing non-lethal aid and are beginning to distribute food and medical supplies to the Free Syrian Army, however they have stopped short of providing arms.

The opposition renewed their appeals for arms Wednesday on the sidelines of a meeting with the Group of Eight (G8) in London. The outgunned opposition have called for the arms in order to fight President Bashar al-Assad's regime in a conflict that is now in its third year and has cost some 70,000 lives, according to the UN.

Casualties in the south

Meanwhile, the Syrian army killed at least 45 people, including five children and seven women, in an assault on two southern towns - Sanamein and Ghabagheb - Wednesday, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group said on Thursday.

The reported clashes were in the strategic province of Daraa, along the border with Jordan and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

Rebels advancing in the south in recent weeks have been trying to secure a passage from the Jordanian border to Damascus to prepare for an eventual assault on the capital.

The main opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC) denounced the killings as "brutal and savage," adding they were driven "by nothing but a lust for murder and a thirst for blood."

State-run Syrian TV said the armed forces "wiped out terrorist groups" and that troops were targeting rebel hideouts in different parts of Daraa, the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar Assad in March 2011.

hc/ch (AP, AFP)