Syrian troops bombarded the Golan ceasefire zone bordering Israel in response to rebel attacks on Saturday, a watchdog said, as clashes began at dawn.
The fighters “clashed with government troops in the vicinity of Aleppo international airport and Nayrab military airbase on Saturday morning as shelling was heard in the area,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP news agency.
Meanwhile in the Golan Heights, fighting erupted as rebels overran a military police checkpoint at Khan Arnabeh, a town just beyond the outer ceasefire line along the demilitarized zone bordering Israel, said the Observatory.
The Golan has been tense since the outbreak two years ago of the anti-regime uprising in Syria that has turned into a bloody insurgency, at times spilling over with mortar and gunfire into the Israeli-held zone.
The latest violence in the area comes after more than 150 combatants from both sides were killed in the battle for Base 80, the now rebel-held military complex that was tasked with protecting the strategic airports.
The insurgents are pressing for more gains in the northern province of Aleppo after seizing Al-Jarrah military airport and a military complex tasked with securing the international airport this week.
They see the capture of the airports as a way of seizing large amounts of ammunition and to put out of action warplanes used by the regime to bombard rebel-held areas.
As they have done every Friday, Syrians protested across the country after weekly prayers to denounce what they called the “inaction” of the international community over the Syria crisis.
“In spite of you, O Bashar, we have our freedom!” chanted protesters in Sukkari, a rebel-held district of Aleppo.
State television broadcast footage of what it said was a pro-regime demonstration in Aleppo, and said residents had called for “armed men to leave their city.”
The International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva said the plight of civilians in Syria has reached catastrophic levels.
“After two years with no end to the military conflict, the situation of the civilian population has reached nothing short of catastrophic” proportions, ICRC Director of Operations Pierre Kraehenbuehl told reporters.
The ICRC has been aiding some 1.5 million Syrians, via the Syrian Arab Crescent, in a conflict that the UN says has left some 70,000 people dead.
The United Nations has also said the number of Syrians who have fled the country could hit 1.1 million by June.
Customs officers in Finland, meanwhile, said they had seized spare parts for tanks in a container en route from Russia to Syria on board a Finnish ship docked at Helsinki’s Vuosaari port in January.
The European Union has banned all sales, delivery, transfers and exports of weapons to Syria.