Syria Army Kills Two in Attacks Near Border With Turkey

Government forces managed to take control of areas close to the hub of the Free Syrian Army; Bashar Assad's uncle, Rifaat Assad, says beleaguered leader will not be able to stay in power.

Syrian troops intensified their attacks on dissidents and rebel hideouts in the northern province of Idlib on Tuesday, opposition activists said, a day after Damascus announced it will start implementing a UN peace plan on April 10.

Government forces managed to take control of two areas close to Maaret al-Nomaan, which is a hub of the opposition Free Syrian Army, near the Syria-Turkey border.

Idlib Syria - AP - 10.3.12

Two civilians and one soldier were killed in Idlib's Taftanaz city in clashes between troops and rebels, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

According to United Nations estimates, more than 9,000 people have died in the crackdown by the regime of President Bashar Assad since March 2011.

Meanwhile, a BBC report released on Tuesday revealed that Bashar Assad’s uncle, Rifaat Assad, does not believe that his nephew will be able to hold onto power much longer.

According to the BBC, Rifaat Assad stated that there are “no places that have escaped violence” in the country, and that he does not think Assad “can stay in power.”

"I would say, though, that he should stay so he can co-operate with a new government and offer the experience he has," Rifaat Assad told the BBC. Rifaat further insisted that the Assad family was still "pretty much accepted by the Syrian people".

According to the article, Assad Rifaat also suggested that a commission monitor “free and transparent election,” so that people will be able to see that the Assad family “has got much more importance and support than some of the meaningless figures of the opposition Syrian National Council who we see on TV screens now.”

Rifaat Assad has lived in exile in both London and Paris since he unsuccessfully attempted to seize power from his brother, Hafez, in the 1980s.

In 1982, Rifaat Assad led a military assault on the city Hama to suppress an uprising by the Muslim Brotherhood. The assault left between 5,000 and 40,000 people dead.