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Jordanian Soldier Killed as Syrian Conflict Spreads

A Free Syrian Army fighter fires his weapon toward Syrian Army positions in Karmal Jabl district in Aleppo, Syria, Oct. 21, 2012.
A Jordanian soldier was killed Monday in clashes with armed militants trying to cross the border into Syria as the Arab League downplayed chances for a truce during this week's Eid al-Adha holiday.

Jordan's information minister, Sameeh Maaytah, said the soldier was the first member of the country's military to be killed in violence related to Syria's civil war. He died in clashes with Islamist fighters attempting to illegally enter Syria to join rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Maaytah did not say whether the militants were Jordanians or foreign fighters trying to jump into the fray in the neighboring country. A number of foreign Islamists have been fighting in Syria alongside the rebels.

Meanwhile, Arab League Deputy Secretary-General Ahmed Ben Helli said hopes of a truce being implemented in Syria during this week's Eid holidays are "slim."

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said government forces fought pitched battles with rebels near Maaret al-Numan and around an army base in nearby Wadi Daif, in Idlib province.

According to the Britain-based watchdog, Monday's clashes were the fiercest seen yet around the Wadi Daif base, which has been besieged for more than a week by Free Syrian Army fighters and jihadist militants of the Al-Nusra Front.

U.N.-Arab League peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi had on Sunday indicated a favorable response to his appeal to both sides of the 19-month Syrian conflict to observe a truce during the four-day Eid holiday, which begins on Friday.

On Sunday, a car bomb killed 13 people in central Damascus.

There has been no claim of responsibility for the blast, which took place near a police station in the predominantly Christian Bab Touma neighborhood.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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