Syria Forces Push Back at Rebels

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BEIRUT, Lebanon -- The embattled Syrian government mounted attacks on rebel positions across the country on Sunday, according to opposition activists.

Fighting intensified in and around Aleppo, the country's largest city, after government forces regained control of Aziza, a village near the city's military airport, following weeks of clashes, the reports said. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based activist organization that tracks the fighting, the rebels in the village ran out of ammunition and were forced to withdraw. The village sits on high ground commanding the road between the military airport and the city.

Syrian warplanes hit Aleppo in the north, Latakia on the Mediterranean coast, the eastern province of Deir Ezzor and other locations in an apparent effort to counter recent territorial gains by the rebels, the activists said.

The insurgency seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad holds large stretches of territory in the north and has been gaining ground for weeks in the south. Near the Jordanian border, it captured an air defense base near the city of Dara'a and seized the nearby town of Dael, further loosening the government's grip on tDara'a Province.

One airstrike on Sunday pounded the Sukkary neighborhood in Aleppo, killing at least 12 civilians, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a network of local opposition activists in Syria. Clashes were also reported near Aleppo's civilian international airport.

Activists posted video images online that appeared to show the aftermath of the airstrike. A crowd of men is seen standing on the rubble of destroyed buildings, looking for survivors and calling out anguished cries of "Allah Akbar" (God is great).

A woman is shown perched on the edge of the second floor of a building whose facade has collapsed, as men standing below her encourage her to climb down.

In the suburbs of Damascus, the capital, government forces reportedly fired rockets on Sunday at the town of Mleeha, where clashes have been raging for the past few days. In a video posted online by activists, black smoke is seen spiraling from a building on fire, and a man's voice says that more than 75 missiles had hit Mleeha since early morning.

The state news agency, SANA, gave a different account of the day's events. It said that the Syrian Army "pursued an armed terrorist group west of Adra in the Damascus countryside, killing and injuring a number of terrorists," using the term the government loosely applies to all its opponents. The agency said government troops carried out special operations in several other provinces on Sunday as well, inflicting heavy losses on rebel fighters.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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