A Syrian rebel fighter aiming his weapon during fighting against Syrian government forces in Aleppo on Thursday. Syrian 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.
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIRUT: Syrian rebels killed 14 soldiers in an attack on an army post in Daraa province today, a watchdog said, a day after the army suffered 92 losses, its highest daily total in the 19-month conflict.
Six rebels were also killed in today’s 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 Thursday marked one of the deadliest days of fighting since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March last year, with at least 240 people killed across the country, including the 92 soldiers, 67 rebel fighters 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 during the conflict, a military hospital official said. In August, the same source reported more than 8,000 victims.
Of the soldiers killed yesterday, 36 died in fighting in Idlib province, where many of the fiercest clashes have taken place over the past three months.
Regime warplanes today 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 al-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 yesterday, were 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, amid fierce clashes between rebels and troops.
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.
“After a failed attempt overnight to take the battalion, the rebels attacked again this morning and have now gained partial control,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said over the phone. “The fighting is ongoing,” he said, without giving information on casualties.
Radar parts on plane
MOSCOW: The Syrian plane intercepted by Turkey on a flight from Moscow was carrying Russian radar parts for Syrian missile defence systems but not weapons, a Russian newspaper report said on Friday. The plane was loaded with 12 boxes containing parts for radars used in the Syrian army’s missile defence systems, Kommersant quoted sources in the arms export industry as saying, denying accusations by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the cargo included ammunition. The sources told the paper that the cargo needed no special documentation as it posed no risk to the crew of the plane or the aircraft itself.