Syrian Government Drops Leaflets Over Damascus

Warning of "inevitable death" if the rebels do not surrender


BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian military helicopters dropped thousands of leaflets over Damascus and its suburbs Tuesday, urging rebels to hand over their weapons or face "inevitable death" as part of a widening and deadly offensive to recapture areas near the capital that have fallen into rebel hands.

The leaflets appear to be part of the regime's psychological warfare against the rebels, but are highly unlikely to have any effect on fighters intent on toppling President Bashar Assad's regime. Human rights groups say more than 20,000 people have been killed in Syria since the revolt against Assad began in March 2011.

The head of the main Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Council, criticized U.S. officials for saying it was premature to speak about a provisional Syrian government.