independent

Monday 21 April 2014

Syrian warplanes hit rebels in capital

SYRIAN warplanes and artillery blasted parts of the capital Damascus and its suburbs, as rebels try to push their way into the centre of President Bashar Assad's power base.

The fighting over the past few weeks in Damascus is the most serious in the capital since July, when rebels captured several neighbourhoods before a swift government counteroffensive swept them out.

The British-based activist group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said fighter jets struck twice in the suburb of Daraya as regime artillery pounded other districts just south of Damascus.

The Syrian air force also launched airstrikes on the northern city of Aleppo, some cities in the northern province of Idlib and the Mediterranean city of Latakia, the Observatory said.

Strongholds

The Damascus suburbs have been rebel strongholds since the uprising against Assad began in March 2011.

In recent weeks, the army has pressed an offensive to regain lost territory near the capital, including two air bases.

In central Syria, a car bomb killed at least 15 people yesterday. The increase in bombing attacks as part of the civil war has raised concerns that Islamist extremist groups are taking a larger role on the side of the rebels.

Activists say at least 40,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which began with peaceful pro-democracy protests but turned into a civil war.

Irish Independent

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