BEIRUT – New chaos engulfed Syria’s civil war as Palestinian supporters and opponents of the embattled regime were swept up Monday in intense fighting in Damascus, while rival rebel groups clashed over control of a Turkish border crossing.
The rare infighting – accompanied by car bombs, airstrikes and artillery shells that killed or maimed dozens of people – heightened fears that if Syrian President Bashar Assad falls, the disparate factions battling the regime will turn on each other.
A suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near an army checkpoint in Hama province, killing 50 soldiers in one of the deadliest single attacks targeting pro-Assad troops in the 19-month uprising, according to activists. Eleven civilians died when a bomb exploded in a central Damascus neighborhood, state media said, and activists reported at least 20 rebels killed in an air raid on the northern town of Harem.
“It’s the worst-case scenario many feared in Syria,” said Fawaz Gerges, director of the Middle East Center at the London School of Economics. “It’s an all-out war.”
Sandinistas win most mayoral races
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – The ruling Sandinista Front has won at least 134 of the 153 mayoral races in local elections the opposition and the U.S. government say lacked transparency, according to results released Monday.
At least three people have died and dozens more have been injured in clashes between rival political groups since Sunday’s elections, authorities said.
With more than 91 percent of the Sunday vote counted, the Sandinistas had 76 percent of the vote, said Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council.
Led by President Daniel Ortega, who was re-elected for another five-year term last year, the Sandinistas have made major advances in municipal elections. The party currently governs 109 municipalities, including the capital, Managua, where journalist Daysi Torres was re-elected.
But the opposition argues there was widespread fraud.