Syrian rebels launch Daraa offensive

2015-06-26 06:07
Syrian rebel. (Aamir Qureshi, AFP)

Syrian rebel. (Aamir Qureshi, AFP)

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Beirut - Syrian rebels launched an offensive on Thursday to capture government-held neighbourhoods in the southern city of Daraa, setting off fighting that killed dozens of people.

Daraa is the birthplace of the uprising against President Bashar Assad that erupted in 2011. The uprising began with mostly peaceful protests, but escalated into a full-blown civil war after a government crackdown.

The new offensive started around dawn on Thursday, aiming to "liberate the city of Daraa", said Major Issam el Rayyes, spokesperson for the Southern Front, a coalition of several dozen moderate rebel groups that is leading the push.

He said rebels and government troops were clashing in several locations.

Syrian State TV said rebel shelling attacks on Daraa killed six people and wounded 13. It said electricity was cut in the city after a main station was hit north of Daraa.

A Jordanian security official said one man was killed and four people were wounded when a shell from Syria struck a market in the Jordanian border town of Ramtha. .

The website of the Jordanian daily Al-Rai said three shells hit Ramtha and that the sound of explosions on the Syrian side of the border could be heard throughout the day. It said the four wounded included two 12-year-old boys.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 20 troops and pro-government gunmen as well as 18 rebels were killed on the first day of fighting.

Daraa governor Mohammed Khaled al-Hannous told Syrian state TV that the attack on the city began at 05:30 (02:30 GMT) with intense shelling.

"Our armed forces repelled them and inflicted large casualties among them," al-Hannous said.

"The situation is under control and they did not advance even one metre."

Read more on:    syria  |  syria conflict

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