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Red Cross declares Syrian conflict to be civil war

8:31 PM, Jul 15, 2012   |    comments
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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - Syria's 16-month bloodbath has crossed an important symbolic threshold.

On Sunday, the international Red Cross formally declared the conflict a civil war, a status with implications for potential war crimes prosecutions.

The Red Cross statement came as United Nations observers gathered new details on what happened in a village where dozens were reported killed in a regime assault. After a second visit to Tremseh on Sunday, the team said Syrian troops went door-to-door in the small farming community, checking residents' IDs and then killing some and taking others away.

According to the U.N., the attack appeared to target army defectors and activists.

Syria denies U.N. claims that government forces had used heavy weapons such as tanks, artillery and helicopters during the attack Thursday.

A Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman says the violence was not a massacre - as activists and many foreign leaders have alleged - but a military operation targeting armed fighters who had taken control of the village.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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