December 4, 2005

Syria says 6 wounded in clash with militant group

By Inal Ersan

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Six people including two militants
were wounded in a clash involving Syrian security forces in the
northern city of Aleppo on Sunday, the state news agency

The Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) also said two militants
were killed and another was wounded in another clash last week.
It said the clash and an arms find were not announced then for
security reasons.

SANA said the latest "clash took place while security
officials were pursuing the terrorist group that was preparing
terrorist acts in the city of Aleppo."

It did not name the Islamist group but described it as "an
armed terrorist group." It said two of the militants were
hospitalized with severe wounds.

SANA said two security personnel and two civilians were
also wounded in the clash in the al-Mouwasalat area of Aleppo.

Residents earlier said a clash and a car pursuit took place
between gunmen believed to be Islamists and security forces.

Al Jazeera television said the gunmen blew up their car
after they were surrounded but a source familiar with the
incident said he was not aware of any explosion.

A human rights activist said a Syrian court sentenced a man
earlier on Sunday to 12 years in jail for belonging to a banned
Islamist group.

"The court issued a death sentence against Omar Darwish for
belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood organization in line with
decree 49 of 1980 but reduced the ruling to 12 years in jail,"
activist and lawyer Anwar al-Bunni said in a statement.


In the early 1980s, Syria crushed an Islamist revolt which
led to the death or imprisonment of thousands and drove the
Muslim Brotherhood into exile. Bunni said Darwish returned from
Iraq in 2003 after living there for 28 years.

Security forces have clashed with militants several times
in recent months, chiefly during raids to arrest them.

In October, Syria arrested a group of radical Islamist
militants who it said planned to launch attacks inside the

Security forces killed a Muslim militant in September and
arrested two in another clash in northeast Syria. A week
before, the forces killed five members of an Islamist militant
group in a gunbattle in the northwest of the country and
discovered a cache of weapons.

Authorities say they have also tightened the noose on
suspected Arab Islamists, arresting dozens and extraditing
scores to their home countries, including Saudi Arabia.

The United States has piled pressure on Syria to seal its
long eastern desert border with Iraq to stop militants from
crossing to fight U.S. forces there.

Syria says it is doing its best to control the frontier but
calls on the United States and Iraq to do more on their side

One group accused by the Syrian authorities of planning
attacks -- the Jund al-Sham, or Soldiers of the Levant -- has
been linked by some terrorism analysts to al Qaeda leader's in
Iraq, Jordanian militant Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

(Additional reporting by Heba Kandil in Dubai)