Last Updated: Mon Oct 01, 2012 14:37 pm (KSA) 11:37 am (GMT)

Heavy clashes in Aleppo souks; Syrian forces shell rebel strongholds in Damascus

A Syrian rebel fires towards regime forces as his comrade ducks for cover during clashes in the old city of Aleppo in northern Syria. (AFP)
A Syrian rebel fires towards regime forces as his comrade ducks for cover during clashes in the old city of Aleppo in northern Syria. (AFP)

Syrian rebels and loyalist troops on Monday clashed heavily in the main souk, or market place, of the northern city of Aleppo which was ravaged by a weekend fire, an AFP correspondent said.

The enemies traded fierce machinegun fire, which reverberated across the centuries-old UNESCO-listed covered market, the correspondent said.

Military air strikes on the town of Salqeen in Syria’s mostly rebel-held province of Idlib on Monday killed 18 people, including eight children, activists at the Local Coordination Committees told Al Arabiya.

As many as 87 people have been killed by the Syrian forces across the country, activists said.

Syrian government forces shelled the eastern suburbs of Damascus on Monday and clashed with armed rebels seeking to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad, activists and residents said.

Residents reported hearing heavy gunfire from around 6 am (0300 GMT). They said the capital was shaken by several loud blasts, possibly artillery fire, two hours later.

“Every one of them feels like an earthquake,” a resident in the central district of Adawi told Reuters in a telephone call punctuated by two loud explosions.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Assad’s forces were targeting rural areas around the Zamalka and Ain Terma suburbs on the eastern fringes of Damascus, a rebel stronghold in recent months.

It said Monday’s army offensive came after Assad’s forces suffered heavy losses in the area on Sunday, when several military checkpoints came under attack.

The Observatory says more than 30,000 people, including 7,000 soldiers and members of the security forces, have been killed in Syria since the start of the uprising against Assad in March last year.

The army repelled a July rebel offensive in Damascus but Assad’s opponents are still present in outlying areas of the capital. Rebels also launched coordinated attacks on the army last week in Aleppo, trying to break a two-month military stalemate in Syria’s biggest city.

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