Syria launches air attack on rebel strongholds

Special to

NICOSIA — The regime of President Bashar Assad has launched another
counter-offensive against Sunni rebels in Syria.

Officials said the Assad regime has directed the Syrian Army and Air
Force to intensify attacks on rebel strongholds around Damascus and other
major cities. They said the latest regime campaign was meant to roll back
rebel gains over the last month.

This citizen journalism image provided by the Local Council of Barzeh, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows the aftermath of rocket attacks on the Barzeh district of Damascus on April 5.  /AP/Local Council of Barzeh
A citizen journalist image shows the aftermath of rocket attacks on the Barzeh district of Damascus on April 5. /AP/Local Council of Barzeh

“We are coming to get you,” a government statement said.

Officials said the counter-offensive, which began on April 7, targeted
Aleppo, Damascus, Dara, Hama, Homs, Lataki and Dir Al Zour. They said the Air Force was pounding rebel strongholds around these cities in what could pave the way for infantry operations.

“The Syrian Army is continuing its mission of pursuing Jabhat Al Nusra
terrorists and NATO mercenaries,” the military said.

On April 6, the Syrian Army captured a village on the road to Aleppo.
The village, Aziza, was seized by regime forces after a 10-day battle
termed a significant defeat for Sunni rebels.

“The village is an important strategic point from which the army can
shell positions all around the area,” the opposition Syrian Observatory for
Human Rights said.

[On April 8, at least 14 people were killed in a car bombing attributed
to the rebels in Damascus. The attack, which also injured 146 people, took
place near the Syrian Central Bank.]

The military campaign has also included operations along the border with
Lebanon. Officials said Sunni rebels were sending fighters from Lebanon to
battle regime units in the central region of Homs.

“Units of the armed forces destroyed a number of terrorists’ hideouts
with all the weapons and ammunitions inside them in the villages of Abel, Al
Bowidah Al Sharqiya, Al Shoumarieh, Al Haidarieh, Al Dabaa, Akmam, Aqrab, Al
Dmaineh Al Gharbieh, Al Hamidieh and Um Sharshouh in Homs countryside,” the
official Syrian news agency, Sana, said.

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