Syria turns guns on rebel areas
Syrian forces pounded rebel-held towns on Tuesday and blasted a bridge used by refugees to escape to Lebanon, monitors said, as President Bashar al-Assad vowed to press ahead with his campaign to crush “terrorism.”
“The Syrian people ... have again proven their capacity to defend the nation and to build a new Syria through their determination to pursue reforms along with the fight against foreign-backed terrorism,” he said, quoted by state news agency SANA.
In the face of widespread international condemnation of Syria’s crackdown on dissent that the United Nations says has cost more than 7,500 lives, Assad insists his security forces are locked in combat with foreign-backed “terrorist gangs.”
At least six people were killed on Tuesday, including a young girl, as Syrian forces launched a major assault on Herak, a town in the southern province of Daraa, a monitoring group said.
The girl was shot dead by a sniper and five soldiers were killed in clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“Large military forces, including tanks and armoured troop carriers, launched an assault on Herak,” the Britain-based monitoring group added, citing residents.
And in Maaret al-Numan, a town in the northwestern province of Idlib, a 23-year-old man was shot dead by sniper fire, according to the Observatory. Security forces also killed two others in Idlib.
After fleeing the battered Baba Amr district in the flashpoint central city of Homs, the rebels regrouped in nearby Rastan, which the Observatory and activists said came under artillery fire on Sunday and Monday.
Rastan, bombed intermittently since February 5, is located on the motorway linking Damascus to northern Syria.