Austin American-Statesman - - THE SECOND FRONT -

Fight­ing be­tween rebels and government forces raged near the Syr­ian cap­i­tal Da­m­as­cus on Mon­day, forc­ing an in­bound Egyp­tian com­mer­cial jet to turn back.

Le­banese se­cu­rity of­fi­cials said Ji­had Makdissi, a pol­ished For­eign Min­istry spokesman known for de­fend­ing the regime of Pres­i­dent Bashar As­sad in flu­ent English, flew from Beirut to Lon­don. But it was not im­me­di­ately clear whether he had de­fected.

The U.N.’s re­gional hu­man­i­tar­ian co­or­di­na­tor for Syria said the U.N. was with­draw­ing most of its in­ter­na­tional staff from Syria due to se­cu­rity is­sues.

U.N. Sec­re­tary-Gen­eral Ban Ki-moon is ac­cus­ing the Syr­ian government of se­ri­ous vi­o­la­tions of the 1974 agree­ment that sep­a­rated Is­raeli and Syr­ian forces in the Golan Heights and is call­ing on both coun­tries to halt fir­ing across the cease-fire line.

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