Rebels pound Shiite villages: Observatory

09/19/2015 - 01:22 AM

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BEIRUT: Insurgents fired nearly 400 rockets at two Shiite villages in northwestern Syria Friday and detonated at least seven car bombs, a monitor said, in a new assault on besieged government-held areas. An alliance of insurgent groups, including Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front, attacked Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, an area bordering Turkey that is mostly held by insurgents after rebel advances this year, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Thousands of civilians have been living under siege in the two Shiite villages, which are still held by government forces.

Fierce clashes raged between the government forces and insurgents of the “Army of Conquest,” a coalition of groups that includes Nusra Front and the powerful Ahrar al-Sham, the Observatory said.

The number of casualties was not immediately clear.

Syrian state TV said forces on the government side had prevented several car bombs from reaching their targets and destroyed them, also killing rebel fighters.

Warring sides agreed to a brief cease-fire last month in the two villages and in Zabadani, a rebel-held town near the Lebanese border under siege by government forces and Hezbollah, an ally of Damascus.

But the two-day cease-fire, the second that month, collapsed before the wounded could be evacuated from either area.

Government forces have since intensified their assault on Zabadani and say they are on the verge of seizing the town.

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