Syrians flee northern town as troops near

In the tribal east, where Syria’s 380,000 barrels per day of oil is produced, tanks and armoured vehicles deployed in the city of Deir al-Zor and around Albu Kamal on the border with Iraq, a week after tens of thousands of people took to the streets there demanding an end to Assad’s autocratic rule.

“Cars are continuing to stream out of Maarat al-Numaan in all directions,” one witness said. “People are loading them with everything: blankets, mattresses on roofs.”

Syrian forces pushed towards the town of 1,00,000, which straddles the main north-south highway linking Damascus with Syria’s second city Aleppo, after arresting hundreds of people in villages close to Jisr al-Shughour, near the border with Turkey, residents said.

The state news agency SANA said an army crackdown in Jisr al-Shughour, where the government said 120 security personnel were killed earlier this month, had restored security there and thousands of people were returning.

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