Syria: 106 soldiers killed by rebels

2012-10-12 17:14
A Syrian rebel fighter stands guard in torrential rain at the entrance to the old city in Aleppo. (AFP)

A Syrian rebel fighter stands guard in torrential rain at the entrance to the old city in Aleppo. (AFP)

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Beirut - Syrian rebels killed 14 soldiers in an attack on an army post in Daraa province on Friday, a watchdog said, a day after the army suffered 92 losses, its highest daily total in the conflict.

Six rebels were also killed in the attack on the army checkpoint at Khirba in the southern province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that fighting also raged in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.

The Britain-based watchdog said on Thursday had marked one of the deadliest days since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March last year, with at least 240 people killed across Syria, including the 92 soldiers, 67 rebels and 81 civilians.

With an average of 20 deaths per day, the army has lost about 10 000 soldiers and had at least an equal number wounded in the conflict, a military hospital official said. In August, the same source reported more than 8 000 deaths.

Fiercest clashes

Of the soldiers killed on Thursday, 36 died in fighting in Idlib province, where many of the fiercest clashes have taken place over the past three months.

Regime warplanes on Friday attacked two buildings in the Idlib town of Maaret al-Numan, where intense fighting has raged since rebels overran it on Tuesday after a fierce 48-hour gunbattle, the Observatory said.

Fighting was ongoing on the periphery of Maaret al-Numan, where troops loyal to President Bashar Assad are still holding two key bases in Wadi Daif and Hamdiyeh, which they use to bombard the town.

An AFP reporter said that the rebels, by gaining control of a stretch of highway near Maaret al-Numan, were on Thursday able to cut off the route linking Damascus to Aleppo, choking the flow of troops to battlefields in the north.

According to the Observatory, the rebels intercepted a radio distress call on Friday from the Wadi Daif base commander, who said: "If our planes do not clean out the areas around the base, I will surrender by the end of the day."

The radio communication came as warplanes were bombarding areas around Wadi Daif and Maaret al-Numan.

Demonstrations

Despite ongoing violence on Friday, anti-regime demonstrations were held in provinces across Syria after the weekly Muslim prayers.

In the embattled city of Aleppo, where regime forces opened fire on protesters in the district of Halab al-Jadida, wounding a number of demonstrators, according to the Observatory.

Similar demonstrations were also reported in Derbassiyeh, a town on the border with Turkey, and in Daraya, a town southwest of Damascus where 500 people were massacred in August.

In Aleppo province, rebels took partial control of an air defence battalion of some 50 soldiers on the highway connecting Aleppo to Raqa province, further to the east and near the Kweris military airport, the Observatory said.

Airports

Military airports have been a key target for the rebels as the army has increasingly deployed warplanes and helicopter gunships to launch devastating strikes.

In Aleppo city, regime forces pounded the districts of Haidariyeh in the northeast and Sukari and Fardoss in the southwest at dawn, as fierce fighting broke out in Sakhur, Suleiman al-Halabi and Sheikh Khodr in the northeast.

More than 32 000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, according to the Observatory, which compiles its data from a network of activists, medics and lawyers on the ground.

During the first 13 months of the revolt, an average of 24 people were killed per day, but in the past six months, with the total militarisation of the rebellion, the daily average has risen to 142.

This figure does not include hundreds of unidentified bodies which have been found across the country or the pro-regime militiamen known as Shabiha.

Read more on:    bashar assad  |  syria  |  syria conflict  |  uprisings
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