Middle East

Government shells civilians in Aleppo

A picture shows destruction in the Al-Sukkari district of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on April 5, 2013. AFP PHOTO / DIMITAR DILKOFF

BEIRUT: At least 10 civilians were killed in airstrikes on Aleppo Sunday morning, a day after government shelling killed 15 in the city.

Regime warplanes also flew low over Damascus, activists said, and struck areas across the country, including Hama province, where eight civilians – five from one family -- were killed in an airstrike on the village of Hurbanafsa, and at least 25 were injured, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

In Deir Al-Zor, two rebels – including one defected army lieutenant – were killed in clashes with regime forces, the Observatory, an activist network, said.

By early afternoon Sunday, 33 had been killed across the country, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist group.

In the Damascus suburb of Ateibeh, rebels destroyed a regime tank, and killed 25 regular soldiers, according to the LCC, as heavy regime shelling was reported in the suburbs of Zabadani and Kafarbatna.

Opposition groups largely control the southern suburbs of the capital, and the regime has, in recent weeks, begun a concerted push to take them back from rebels, in an attempt to prevent them from reaching the city center itself.

Regime airstrikes also hit Idlib and Homs, and in Deraa, a man was killed in government sniper fire, the Observatory said.

According to state media Sunday, soldiers ambushed Nusra Front positions in Lattakia, which is on the western coast of Syria.

“An official source in the province said that five machinegun-equipped cars were destroyed, in addition to killing many terrorists including Attwan an-Assri, the leader of ‘Badr Battalion’ terrorist group,” SANA reported.

It also said that one Sudanese, one Saudi Arabian and one Libyan “terrorist” had also been killed in the series of raids. The Syrian government has maintained that the civil war has been led by foreign fighters.

In an interview with Turkish media published in full on Friday, President Bashar Assad blamed Syria’s neighbors for helping terrorists enter into the country, and warned that the breakup of Syria would lead to a regional war.

Also Sunday, the government urged rebels to surrender their arms, warning in cell phone text messages that the army is "coming to get you,” the Associated Press reported.





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