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Hundreds killed as thousands flee

Hundreds killed as thousands flee

Sat July 21, 2012 11:07am

Among the fatalities were Assad's national security chief, General Hisham Ikhtiyar, who died on Friday from wounds sustained in the bombing on Wednesday. The attack killed three others, including the defence minister and Assad's brother-in-law. All were key to the government's efforts to stamp out the insurgency.

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council voted on Friday to extend the mission of some 300 observers in Syria for 30 days. The observers, sent to oversee a ceasefire that has never taken hold, have been largely confined to their hotels in recent weeks.

On Thursday, Russia and China vetoed a resolution backed by key Western nations that would have threatened non-military sanctions on Assad's regime.

Syria's unrest began in March 2011 when protests calling for political change met a violent government crackdown. Many in the opposition have since taken up arms as the conflict spiralled into a civil war that activists say has killed more than 17,000 people.

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