Syria’s army repelled a rebel attack Wednesday on a military base at Sheikh Suleiman, 25 kilometres (15 miles) northwest of the city of Aleppo, and killed at least 25 insurgents, a watchdog said.
Rebel fighters have besieged the base for several weeks, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. They have now been forced to pull back as forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad win back ground in northwest Syria.
At least 25 rebel fighters were killed, said the Britain-based monitoring group, citing rebels.
The area was mined and came under aerial bombardment, it said.
Rebels seized the strategically located Base 46 late last week, according to the monitoring group. The base is a large military complex perched on a hill, and is also located near Syria’s second city Aleppo.
Base 46 was one of the army’s last remaining bases in the area bordering Turkey, which supports the revolt against Assad.
Rebels had aimed to expel the army from Sheikh Suleiman, as they edge towards declaring the “liberation” from regime hands of northwestern Syria.
In violence in the capital on Tuesday, a mortar shell smashed into an upmarket district that houses several embassies, killing one person and injuring several others, the Observatory and Syria’s official media said.
The blast in Abu Rummaneh marked the first time the wealthy district has been targeted since the March 2011 outbreak of the revolt against the regime.
Pro-government Al-Watan daily also reported the attack, saying “a mortar shell fell near the Madfaa garden in the district of Abu Rummaneh, causing casualties.” It did not elaborate.
On Wednesday, the army shelled the southern belt of Damascus and the town of Daraya southwest of the capital, said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, doctors and lawyers to compile and verify its data.
The group added that helicopters and warplanes were deployed over the capital’s Eastern Ghouta area as the army launched new operations to retake control of areas of Damascus province from the rebel Free Syrian Army.
At least 39,000 people have been killed across Syria since the outbreak of the revolt, according to the watchdog.