At least 47 killed in violence across Syria: NGO
BEIRUT: Clashes with rebels in Syria’s western Latakia province killed 22 soldiers on Tuesday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported, bringing the day’s death toll to at least 47.
“Renewed bombardment by regime forces of several villages in the Al-Heffa district of Latakia (province), scene of intense clashes between regime troops and opposition fighters since the morning, has killed at least two civilians, nine militants and 22 soldiers,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Dozens of troops and civilians were also wounded in the fighting in which government forces used helicopters to strafe suspected rebel positions, Abdel Rahman said.
Clashes broke out in the villages of Bakas, Shirkak, Babna, Al-Jankil, and Al-Dafil, while troops stormed Al-Heffa town, he added.
The state SANA news agency reported that “armed terrorist groups attacked citizens and security forces in Al-Heffa on Tuesday and tried to sabotage public and private institutions after the destruction of two ambulances.
“The authorities have killed and wounded a number of terrorists in clashes,” SANA said, adding that two soldiers had also been killed.
Asked about the large number of troops killed in recent days, Abdel Rahman said: “This relates to the sharp increase in clashes across the country.
“Troops are vulnerable to heavy losses because they are not trained for street battles and are therefore exposed to attacks.
“What exacerbates those losses is that the army is fighting residents of those towns and villages, whether military defectors or civilians who took up arms against the regime, who know the area inside out and enjoy public support.” The Observatory also reported clashes in the town of Kfar Zita in the central province of Hama, in villages in the northwestern province of Idlib, in the Lajat district of the southern province of Daraa, and near the town of Bianoon in Aleppo province in the north.
At least 14 other people died in violence across Syria on Tuesday, including four civilians killed in a “huge military operation” before dawn in the Kfar Oweid district of Idlib province, the Britain-based watchdog said.
In the southern province of Daraa, three people were killed — one during a raid by regime forces on the town of Sheikh Maskeen, one young girl killed by shelling in Lajat and a woman shot near the Syrian-Jordanian border.
Another young girl was killed by machinegun fire in the town of Aazaz in the northern province of Aleppo, the Observatory said.
Three civilians died in the central provinces of Homs and Hama, including two shot dead by government troops in Homs city and a third killed by sniper fire in the village of Koukab.
Government forces also killed a dissident in Hama city.
In the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor, gunmen assassinated an army colonel in front of his home, the Observatory said, while a general was killed by a roadside bomb in the Damascus neighbourhood of Barzeh.