Syria soldiers 'defect and flee'

Foreign Secretary William Hague has admitted he is "deeply frustrated" by the ongoing bloodshed in Syria. He said sanctions against Syrian president Bashar Assad's regime were working, but urged for quicker action to oust the leader.

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Syrian general and soldiers 'flee to Turkey'

A Syrian general from an artillery division and seven officers were among dozens of soldiers, mostly serving in Homs province, who defected and fled to Turkey, a Syrian activist and Free Syrian Army sources told Reuters.

Turkish state broadcaster TRT Haber said on its website that 85 Syrian soldiers, including the general, were among those who were sent to the Apaydin camp in Turkey's Hatay province.

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UN: Arms flowing to both sides in Syrian conflict

Damaged entrance of a mosque in Homs after fighting between Syrian rebel fighters and Bashar al-Assad's forces. Credit: Reuters

The Syrian government and the rebels are receiving more and more weapons, which is fueling violence in a 16-month conflict that the United Nations says has killed more than 10,000 people, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

"The ongoing provision of arms to the Syrian government and to its opponents feeds additional violence," Pillay said in the written text of remarks she made to the UN Security Council, obtained by Reuters. "Any further militarization of the conflict must be avoided at all costs."

She did not say where the weapons were coming from, though Russia and Iran are among the Syrian government's key suppliers. UN diplomats say Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been transferring arms to Syria's increasingly militarized opposition.

Turkey scrambles jets to guard Syrian border

Turkey's armed forces command confirmed on Monday that it had scrambled a total of six F-16 fighter jets in three separate incidents responding to Syrian military helicopters approaching the border on Sunday, but there was no violation of Turkish airspace.

It said in a statement the jets had been scrambled from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey in response to Syrian helicopters flying south of the Turkish province of Hatay, within 2-2.5 miles of the Turkish border.

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Turk jets scramble after Syria aircraft near border

Turkey's armed forces command said it had scrambled a total of six F-16 fighter jets in three separate incidents responding to Syrian military helicopters approaching the border on Saturday, but there was no violation of Turkish airspace.

It said in a statement four of the jets had scrambled from Incirlik air base in southern Turkey in response to Syrian helicopters flying south of the Turkish province of Hatay.

Two other F-16s took off from a base in Batman after Syrian helicopters were spotted close to the border south of the Turkish province of Mardin.

Syrian National Council critical of UN peace plan

Syrian opposition groups expressed caution following a UN-brokered peace plan for a political transition in Syria.

Khalid Saleh, a member of Syrian National Council in Istanbul, was critical of this decision.

He said:

"I think it needs to be very clear to the international community that the people that went out to break the slavery that the Assad regime had really put them through under for the last 40 years will not go back to their houses if the international community is looking to improve the conditions of slavery. We refuse, we refuse for Assad and those who bathed their hands in Syrian blood to stay in power.

"We are yet to see real actions."

Saleh added saying all the opposition groups have seen so far were "just words".

France says Geneva Syria plans implies Assad must go

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the text 'says that there will be a transitional government with all powers' Credit: REUTERS/Valentin Flauraud

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said that a text agreed by members of the UN Security Council in Geneva on a political transition for Syria implied that President Bashar al-Assad would have to step down.

He told French television station TF1: "The text says specifically that there will be a transitional government with all powers ... it won't be Bashar al-Assad because it will be people that are agreed to by mutual consent.

"The opposition will never agree to him, so it signals implicitly that Assad must go and that he is finished."

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