Syrian army launches counteroffensive, calls on rebels to lay down arms
The Syrian army targeted rebels with heavy airstrikes in at least seven cities and regions Sunday, killing at least 20 people. The government also called on rebel fighters to surrender their weapons.
(Page 2 of 2)
Anti-government activists in Aleppo posted videos on line, showing the aftermath of Saturday's airstrike on what they say is Sukkary district in the northern city. Dozens of residents are standing on piles of rubble in front of a row of residential buildings, looking in disbelief at the front of the building that was blown off when a missile slammed into it.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Syria's civil war: a Middle East crisis
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In another video, men help a woman climb down from a balcony of the second floor of a building that has partially collapsed after a missile ripped through it.
The videos appear consistent with AP reporting from the area.
State television said the primary goal of the airstrikes was to "recapture areas taken by the terrorists," the term the regime uses to refer to opposition fighters in the civil war.
Regime fighter jets pounded villages in rebel-held areas in Latakia province before. But they do not frequently hit the city of the same name that is mostly populated with Syrian minority communities including many members of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam that Assad and his family belong to.
The rebels and opposition supporters are mostly Sunni Muslims, a majority in Syria.
The Aleppo strike was the deadliest air raid on Sunday, killing up to 12 people, according to another anti-regime activists group, The Local Coordination Committees.
In other violence, a man was shot and killed by an army sniper in the southern city of Daraa, the Observatory said, adding that clashes between troops and rebels raged in the opposition strongholds around Damascus. At least 15 people were killed in the fighting around the capital, the group said.
Daraa province has been the scene of fierce fighting in recent weeks, with rebels making gains in the province and further south.
Last week, they looked poised to take over the area along the Jordanian border, which could be used to try to stage an attack on Damascus, Assad's seat of power.
Abdul-Rahman said there was little rebel advancement in the province on Sunday, despite rebel forces receiving heavier flows of weapons through Jordan as well as training there by the U.S. and other countries.
In Istanbul, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on the first leg of a 10-day overseas trip. They discussed shared U.S. and Turkish efforts to support Syria's opposition groups, which have struggled to unify and strengthen links with rebels on the battlefield.
More than 70,000 people have died in the conflict that began in March 2011.
RECOMMENDED: When dictators fall, so do their banknotes