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Syrian rebels capture key village near Aleppo city

Beirut: Syrian rebels went on the offensive in Syria's north today, seizing three villages and attacking a main supply road, trying to counter government advances in recent weeks throughout the country.

Today's clashes near the northern city of Aleppo killed more than a dozen government soldiers, activists said. The battle came a day after forces fighting for President Bashar Assad killed dozens of rebels near Damascus.

Free Syrian Army fighters move through a hole in a wall in the northern town of Khan al-Assal, after seizing it . Reuters

Free Syrian Army fighters move through a hole in a wall in the northern town of Khan al-Assal, after seizing it . Reuters

The battles showed that more than two years after it started, the Syrian civil war appears far from over, and neither side is showing signs of fatigue. According to the UN, at least 93,000 people have been killed in the bloody conflict.

In another rebel attack today, two suicide bombers from the al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra blew up their cars in a military post and an army checkpoint in the town of Sukhna near the central city of Palmyra, killing and wounding large numbers of troops, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. It said warplanes bombed the town after the two blasts, causing casualties among civilians.

The fighting in the northern province of Aleppo came a day after opposition fighters sustained some of their heaviest losses in months.

Government troops killed at least 75 rebels in and around the Syrian capital yesterday, the Observatory said.

The rebel capture of the strategic village of Khan al-Assal and two smaller villages was a rare victory in recent months.

Khan al-Assal has been a major front in the fight for Aleppo. In March, chemical weapons were allegedly used in the village, killing more than 30 people. The Syrian government and the rebels blame each other for the attack.

Opposition fighters today took control of the villages on the southwestern outskirts of Aleppo, though clashes were still going on near Khan al-Assal. Inside Aleppo, airstrikes targeted several rebel-held districts, said the Observatory, an anti-regime activists group that relies on reports from activists on the ground.

The opposition's Aleppo Media Center said several rebel factions are taking part in the operation that aims to cut government supply lines to the southern areas of Aleppo province. The AMC said rebels cut the road, but the Observatory said fighting was still in progress there.

Regime forces have been relying on the road to bring supplies and food to government-controlled areas in the north after rebels cut the main highway between Damascus and Aleppo, Syria's largest city, last year.

The Observatory said 14 government troops were killed today in the fighting in Aleppo province.

Associated Press

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