Mark 13:8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.
“Hardly a day goes by when our senses are not bludgeoned by some new outbreak of terrorism in the Middle East. Despite our best efforts at making and keeping the peace, political, economic, and religious tensions often lead to unrest, violence, and riots.”
-Jim Bakker in “Prosperity and the Coming Apocalypse”
Army defectors in northwestern Syria — armed with rocket-propelled grenades — attacked a pro-government youth group office and clashed with Syrian security personnel Thursday, activist groups said.
Security forces also arrested dozens during raids in Harasta, the location of the air intelligence base outside Damascus that was attacked a day before by the Free Syrian Army, a band of military defectors confronting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
The developments stoke fears that the violence will spread.
“This was quite similar to a true civil war,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Thursday about the strike on the air intelligence base.The defectors Thursday targeted the Revolutionary Youth Association office in the Idlib province town of Maaret Al Nu’man, and fought Syrian security personnel at the scene, according to the the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees of Syria.
The groups didn’t identify the assailants as Free Syrian Army members.
There was no word of casualties in the Maaret Al Nu’man incident, but security personnel killed at least 12 people across Syria and explosions and gunfire rocked the suburbs of the capital Damascus, the LCC said.
The dead include four military defectors outside the western city of Hama. Eight civilians also died: three in Idlib, two in Homs, two in Deir Ezzor, and one outside Hama. One of those killed was a young child, the LCC said.
The LCC reported raids and arrests in Hama neighborhoods, snipers in Idlib, demonstrations in Deir Ezzor and the southern city of Daraa, and the continuation of raids and arrests in the Idlib province town of Kafrouma.
International leaders have been intensifying their pressure on al-Assad to end violence against protesters in the uprising the United Nations says has killed well over 3,500 people. Russia and Turkey are the latest world powers to weigh in on the crisis.
“Violence in Syria must stop — whatever its origin,” Lavrov said. “Violence in Syria originates not only from government structures as more and more weapons are being smuggled in from neighboring countries.”
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan compared the reaction to the Libyan and Syrian crises, according to the semi-official Anatolian Agency. NATO forces helped Libyan rebels oust the Moammar Gadhafi regime in Libya, but international powers haven’t intervened in Syria.
“I want you to know that the people losing their lives in Syria are just as human as those who lost their lives in Libya. That those who had the appetite for Libya remain silent and without reaction in the face of the slaughters in Syria opens wounds hard to repair in human conscience,” Erdogan said.
Germany, France and Britain will hand in a draft U.N. resolution Thursday condemning the Syrian government’s actions, a German diplomatic spokesman in New York told CNN Wednesday. Diplomats from Arab countries are considering co-sponsoring the resolution.
A Western diplomat told CNN that Saudi Arabia, Qatar and possibly Morocco and Jordan will be coming on board to co-sponsor the resolution.
One expert, Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said the defectors’ strike on air intelligence reflects the growing sophistication of the Free Syrian Army and “opens up a new era of the conflict.” The group said it planted “powerful explosions inside and around the compound that shook its foundations.”
Air intelligence has been deeply involved in the eight-month crackdown by the Syrian government against protesters, he said
“Until now, most of the protests have been peaceful,” Tabler said.
The Arab League, which met in Rabat, Morocco, Wednesday, has given Damascus three days to implement a protocol to allow observes to enter the nation and verify whether Syria has taken measures to protect civilians.
The league has also called on member states to withdraw their ambassadors from Damascus, a decision that will be up to each nation. In a sign of Syria’s growing international isolation, France withdrew its ambassador Wednesday after attacks on its missions in the nation. Morocco also withdrew its ambassador to Syria, the country’s state-run media said.
CNN is not able to independently verify claims of fighting and casualties because the Syrian government has restricted international media access to the country.