In addition, Activists say Syrian troops are attacking a suburb of the capital Damascus in what they described as one of the most violent campaigns since the year-old uprising began.
- Syrian official: Troops start pullout
- Syria conference: Gulf countries to fund rebels
- TA: Hundreds protest Syria massacre
The Britiain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says "a major operation" is under way in the suburb of Douma, with tanks shelling the area and clashes between troops and army defectors.
Soldier in Baba-Amr (Photo: AFP PHOTO / YOUTUBE)
Douma-based activist Mohammed Saeed said Thursday's operation is "one of the most violent campaigns against the area" since the uprising against President Bashar Assad's regime began in March last year.
Anti-regime activists deny troops were withdrawing adding that the latest assaults is an evidence that Assad is trying to crush those seeking to overthrow Assad's regime before the cease-fire goes into effect. Activist groups reported more than 50 dead nationwide on Wednesday.
Activists say that the town of Hraytan was subjected to intense shelling by tanks and helicopters since 5 am. He added that a ground offensive began three hours later and hundreds of troops were pushing their way into the town.
"There are wounded people in the streets that we cannot reach because of the shelling," said activist Abu Nasr by telephone. "The situation is catastrophic in the city. Large numbers of people are fleeing."
smoke in Douma suburb (Photo: AFP PHOTO / YOUTUBE)
1,600 refugees a day
As the fighting raged in the north, more Syrians fled to neighboring Turkey where the country's disaster management agency said more than 1,600 refugees arrived on Wednesday and Thursday. That pushes the total number of Syrians who fled to Turkey to nearly 22,000.
Annan's plan requires regime forces to withdraw from towns and cities, followed by a withdrawal by rebel fighters. Then all sides are supposed to hold talks on a political solution.
The United Nations expects a cease-fire between Syrian troops and opposition forces to be in place no later than April 12. Kofi Annan's peace plan had previously set the April 10 deadline for Syrian troops to pull out of towns.
Meanwhile, more than 1,600 Syrian refugees have fled to Turkey in the last two days, pushing the number sheltering there from the fighting in their homeland to more than 20,000, the Turkish disaster and emergency management authority said on Thursday. The numbers fleeing were the highest since March 15 when around 1,000 Syrians entered Turkey in one day. Since then, around 300 to 400 Syrians have fled each day.
Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said last month that setting up a "safe" or "buffer" zone along the border was among the options his government was considering.
AP and Reuters contributed to this report
- Receive Ynetnews updates
directly to your desktop