Last updated: 10 February, 2013

Rebels launch fierce assaults on Syrian troops

Syrian rebels launched fierce assaults on regime troops in several parts of the country on Sunday, including near Deir Ezzor where they used tanks to shell an army brigade, a watchdog and activists said.

The rebels used tanks to shell Brigade 113 just north of the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, which they have surrounded for weeks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Brigade 113 and the besieged military airport of Deir Ezzor are some of the last regime holdouts in the city, whose province is largely held by the rebel fighters.

The opposition Deir Ezzor press network, a grassroots group of activists said that the humanitarian conditions in the province were dire.

“The western countryside is out of water and electricity supplies for the eleventh day in a row due to the indiscriminate shelling by the regime forces,” it said.

Two weeks ago, the rebels captured the vital Siyasiyeh suspension bridge that straddles the Euphrates river in Deir Ezzor, cutting off the main regime supply route to the adjoining province of Hasakeh.

Regime troops have already been forced from the vast territory stretching from Deir Ezzor city to the Iraqi border, including the border town of Albu Kamal and its small military airbase.

In the northeast province of Raqa on Sunday, fighters from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front and other rebel battalions took over an army company in Tabqa along the Euphrates river, securing a major cache of artillery and ammunition and taking control of a key checkpoint in the town, the Observatory said.

Rebels also continued their assault on Wadi Deif military base, a major regime holdout in the largely rebel-held northwest province of Idlib, while the army retaliated shelling the nearby town of Maaret al-Numan.

In the northern province of Aleppo four soldiers were killed and more than 20 wounded in a bombing by Al-Nusra Front targeting a military building, the Observatory said without offering other details.

Rebels also attacked an army convoy south of Aleppo city and attacked a cement plant in the central Hama province killing five guards.

In the capital Damascus an explosive charge blew up near a police station injuring two civilians while a mortar hit the nearby Shahbandar Square causing no injuries, the Observatory said.

The watchdog, which collects reports from a network of activists and medics in civilian and military hospitals on the ground, said that at leat 50 people were killed in violence across Syria on Sunday.