Syrian Troops Regain Control Of Northern Town

Over the weekend, Syrian troops regained control of a town near the border with Turkey. There was heavy fighting reported, and a mass grave was discovered.

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STEVE INSKEEP, host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Im Steve Inskeep.

Syria's uprising has begun to resemble a war and it is certainly an information war, as we'll hear this morning. The government and it's critics are trying to get their versions of the story to the world. In a moment, we'll hear about a source of information who turned out to be a fraud.

We begin with some verifiable information from northern Syria. The government sent in troops to fight in a rebellious town, even as refugees brought their story to camps across the border in Turkey.

NPR's Deborah Amos reports.

DEBORAH AMOS: Syrias official media reported the discovery of a mass grave in Jisr al-Shughour, the northern town thats been the target of the military operation. Syrian officials say 120 security personnel were killed by gunmen in stolen army uniforms.

For the first time, the Syrian State invited a limited contingent of reporters to accompany Syrian troops. And the pictures of the mass grave are certainly grisly - the dispute is over who killed those men. From the Turkish refugee camps, many residents of Jisr al-Shughour now give eyewitness accounts. They tell a consistent story of mutinous security personnel murdered by officers, after refusing orders to fire on civilians.

It's the most dramatic first hand testimony to date. It's also a major crack in the governments ability to control information and contain the movement.

In Turkey, some security personnel who escaped flashed military I.D.s to prove their claims. It's unlikely they can return to Syria and join more than 5,000 refugees in tent camps. Many more are waiting to cross the border, which makes southern Turkey the first safe haven for the anti-government movement.

Deborah Amos, NPR News, Beirut.

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