Monday 20 November 2017

Battles rage in Syria ahead of talks at the United Nations

Smoke rises as a mortar shell hits a rebel position in the Idlib Provence countryside of Syria (AP)
Smoke rises as a mortar shell hits a rebel position in the Idlib Provence countryside of Syria (AP)
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad (centre, on R) meets Russian deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov (centre, on L) in Damascus
Free Syrian Army fighters carry weapons at the fifth bridge area on Damascus International Airport Road in Damascus September 17, 2013. Picture taken September 17, 2013. REUTERS/Mssalam Abdalbaset (SYRIA - Tags: CIVIL UNREST CONFLICT)
Free Syrian Army fighters carrying weapons walk at the fifth bridge area on Damascus International Airport Road
Free Syrian Army fighters rest at the fifth bridge area on Damascus International Airport Road
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH Residents transport a dead body after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighbourhood of Aleppo September 18, 2013. REUTERS/Hamid Khatib (SYRIA - Tags: CONFLICT CIVIL UNREST) TEMPLATE OUT
A dead body is seen on the ground covered with a blanket after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in the al-Myassar neighbourhood of Aleppo September 18, 2013.
Free Syrian Army fighters inspect a dead body after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad

Syrian warplanes struck rebel-held areas and clashes between militants and government forces continued unabated today.

Meanwhile, key powers met to forge a deal that would eliminate Syrian chemical weapons.

Activists said President Bashar al-Assad's air force hit the neighbourhood of Berze, a northeastern part of central Damascus, where rebels are trying to push further into the city.

Air strikes and skirmishes are countrywide but the key fight is in the capital, where Assad controls central districts but has lost suburbs.

Diplomats from five nations will continue talks today in New York on a Western-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution to take over, with Syrian cooperation, and then destroy Syrian chemical weapons.

But Russia rejects Western assertions that Assad's forces, and not rebel groups, carried out an August 21 poison gas attack.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which says it provides objective information about casualties on both sides of Syria's war from a network of monitors, reported violence in nearly every province.

It said war planes hit parts of southern Deraa province where the revolt started and that rebels and government forces clashed in the major cities of Homs, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo.

In Idlib province, which borders Turkey, the Observatory cited activists as reporting the killing and burning of 11 civilians by the army. Reuters cannot confirm reports due to security and reporting restrictions.

It said that in the northeast, near the border with Turkey, Kurdish militants had captured the village of Alok from an al-Qaeda linked group after four days of intense battles in one of Syria's numerous localised conflicts.

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