At least 97 people, mostly civilians, were killed Saturday in the violent events in Syria where troops loyal to the regime have intensified their crackdown, said the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (SOHR).
The dead included 65 civilians killed in shelling of rebel strongholds, including a six-member family in Deir Ezzor, said the SOHR. 19 soldiers were killed in fighting with rebels, while ten soldiers who tried to defect near Damascus were shot dead, said the NGO. The day before, there were 116 people who had died.
Meanwhile, a joint naval Turkish-Syrian operation was underway to try and find the two Turkish pilots killed Friday by Syrian forces. Ankara has raised this affair Saturday night with Washington, London, Paris, Moscow and Tehran. The Turkish foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu had a telephone conversation with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and with Catherine Ashton, High Representative for EU Foreign and Security Policy.
Ankara is also in contact with the Syrian authorities, said Saturday the Turkish President Abdullah Gul. Shortly after the incident, Turkey had downplayed the matter, saying the plane unintentionally violated Syria's airspace. According to Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc the plane was on a reconnaissance mission.