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THURSDAY, 17 APR 2014
09:35 PM Beirut time
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Air strikes target Syria rebel-held towns: activists
Agence France Presse
Soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad travel in a Syrian Army tank in al-Arqoub neighborhood, after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and regime forces in Aleppo city September 23, 2012. (REUTERS/George Ourfalian)
Soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad travel in a Syrian Army tank in al-Arqoub neighborhood, after clashes between Free Syrian Army fighters and regime forces in Aleppo city September 23, 2012. (REUTERS/George Ourfalian)
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BEIRUT: Syrian aircraft carried out strikes on rebel bastions across the country Sunday, especially in central Homs province and Deir Ezzor in the east, a watchdog said, as 31 people were killed nationwide.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said apartment blocks in Albu Kamal were targeted as rebels and soldiers battled on the ground in several districts of the town on the Iraqi border.

"The insurgents are trying to wrest control of this strategic town" in the oil-rich province of Deir Ezzor as well as the nearby Hamdan military airport, said the group's head, Rami Abdel Rahman.

He said losing Albu Kamal would be "a deadly blow for the regime."

In Homs, the country's third largest city, government artillery and air raids targeted the outskirts of the Jubar, Sultaniya and Baba Amr districts where rebels hold positions, said the Observatory.

It added that three fighters were killed in clashes with the army in the village of Nakira just outside Jubar, while one civilian was shot dead by pro-regime gunmen elsewhere in the province.

The Britain-based group, which gathers information from a network of activists on the ground, said warplanes also raided Jebel al-Akrad in the coastal province of Latakia.

Several buildings collapsed under air strikes in the northwestern province of Idlib, Hama in central Syria and Daraa to the south, where one young girl was killed in shelling, according to the Observatory.

In the northern province of Aleppo, rebels destroyed two fighter planes on the ground in Orm, rebel Colonel Ahmad Abdul Wahab told AFP.

And in Aleppo city, where the revolt has centered for the past two months, a woman and a rebel were killed while fierce fighting broke out between rebels and troops in the northern Bustan al-Basha district, the watchdog said.

Residents have largely left embattled Bustan al-Basha, which has faced electricity and water shortages for the past week, witnesses told AFP.

Abu Mahmud, a pastry maker in his forties, said he is the only person left on his "deserted street."

"I sent my family to stay with a relative in a remote neighborhood. But if I leave the rebels will move in," he said. "This house is everything I have."

In Damascus, two explosions were heard in the central Shaghur area. Ambulances were seen but there was no word on the nature of the blasts, the Observatory said.

To the west of the capital, the suburb of Maadameya al-Sham came under heavy shelling by regime forces, destroying several houses, it said.

The Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists on the ground, said the shelling was coming from the Mazzeh military airport, one of the largest in the country.

The LCC said the elite Fourth Division of the army was using mortars and artillery to target residential areas.

The army also shelled the restive suburb of Douma northeast of Damascus, killing two civilians, the watchdog said.

It gave an initial toll of 31 killed -- 11 civilians, 12 soldiers and eight rebels -- nationwide Sunday.

 
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