UK & World News
Syria Rebels Take Over Border Crossings
Rebels have attacked Syrian forces along the border with Iraq, killing 21 soldiers and seizing control one of the major border posts, a senior Iraqi army official said.
Amateur video posted online also showed rebels taking over the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, where they tore up portraits of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The developments on the borders come as activists say 250 people were killed in Syria on Thursday - the highest daily number since the revolt against Assad began 16 months ago.
And nearly 19,000 Syrians, many from the capital, have fled from violence at home across the border into Lebanon since Wednesday, a Lebanese security source said.
The Free Syrian Army is also saying that all border points between Iraq and Syria are under their control, but this has not been confirmed.
Iraqi Army Brig General Qassim al Dulaimi said: "We have security concerns because the border crossing now is out of the Syria government's control, and nobody can anticipate what will happen."
Mr al Dulaimi said about 12 rebels earlier stormed the Syrian border crossing near Qaim, west of Baghdad. He said the rebels forced the border guards from their posts but did not cross into Iraq.
Hours later, Mr al Dulaimi said rebels attacked a Syrian army outpost in the remote Sinjar mountain range, near the Iraqi border, and killed 20 soldiers and their commander.
Iraqi officials said two northern border crossings - in Ninevah province near Rabiya and in the self-ruling Kurdish region - were also still in Syrian government control.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels seized control of the post on the border with Turkey.
"Rebel fighters seized control of the Bab al-Hawa crossing (in the north-western province of Idlib)," the Britain-based rights group said.
Earlier, Mr Assad made his first public appearance since a bomb killed some of his top lieutenants, looking calm and composed on state TV even as his forces turned parts of Damascus into combat zones.
The unprecedented attack on Mr Assad's inner circle on Wednesday, along with the government's inability to crush the rebels after five days of intense clashes in the Syrian capital, point to an unravelling of his grip on power after 16 months of violence.
Meanwhile Britain's Foreign Secretary, William Hague, has accused Russia and China of "turning their back on the Syrian people in their darkest hour" after they once again used their veto to block a UN Security Council resolution.