Friday, 19 October 2012

Syrian warplanes keep pounding rebel held city

AFP MAARET AL-NUMAN WARPLANES pounded an important rebel-hold city in Syria for a second straight day on Friday as violence continued on the ground, with loyalists of President Bashar al Assad and rebels locked in an all-out fight for the city of Maaret al Numan on the highway between Syria two largest cities.

Assad's forces, who holds supremacy in the air, battered the northwestern city at dawn, a day after strikes on a residential area killed dozens, nearly half of them children, rescuers told an AFP reporter on the scene.

The raids are aimed at trying to regain control of the highway to resupply units under fire in the Northern metropolis of Aleppo for the past three months and 250 troops to help in their Wadi Deif base besieged.

Fighter jets overflew at high altitude before nosediving to four to five hits on targets in the outskirts of the city, such as helicopter gunships buzzed the area, said the correspondent.

The Syrian Observatory for human rights said targets included rebels camped near Wadi Deif, who is also a large storage facility for heavy armour and fuel.

"Military aircraft dropped bombs that targeted rebels camped near (the base) Wadi Deif to concentrate their firepower on the villages ' Talmans and Maashemsha, it said. The rebels say that they have launched a "final attack" at Wadi Deif, who is surrounded by about 2,500 insurgents, says the Observatory, adding at least six soldiers have been killed so far.

They responded to the air raids by opening fire from heavy machine guns mounted on vehicles with four wheel drive.

"It doesn't matter if we die.

We need to shoot in these areas, "said one of the crew of a machine gun fighters.

Also with an interval of 15-20 minutes, some of them rained down on Maaret al-Numan rockets fired by soldiers holed up in Wadi Deif.

On Thursday, warplanes aimed at residential areas of Maaret al-Numan killed at least 49 people, including 23 children, rescuers said.

The strikes destroyed two complexes of the casing and a mosque, where many women and children had entrenched, with bodies still trapped under the rubble of the mosque, the Medici and the rescuers said.

Among the dead was a nine-month-old baby.

Plump feet resting on the bike pedals and a decapitated head were all that was left of a boy caught know by the blitz as he played outside his house.

Violence across Syria 195 people were killed on Thursday — 89 citizens, 61 soldiers and 45 rebels, said the Observatory, which is based on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers for his information.

The exiled opposition said it would be a ceasefire but insisted that it was for the Government to stop its daily bombing.

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