BEIRUT (AP) — Anti-government violence erupted Saturday in a southern Syrian province that had largely stayed on the sidelines of the country’s civil war. Meanwhile, unconfirmed reports suggesting that Russia was planning to expand its military support for Syrian President Bashar Assad prompted a warning from the U.S. that such actions could lead to a confrontation with coalition forces.
The violence in Sweida province, a stronghold of the Druze minority sect, followed the killing of a prominent cleric in rare explosions Friday that claimed the lives of at least 25 others, activists and pro-government media said. Rioters holding the government responsible for the cleric’s death destroyed the statue of late Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and besieged security offices, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and other activist groups said. Continue reading