106 soldiers killed as Syrian rebels go on attack: watchdog
BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
A Syrian opposition fighter stands near a post in the northern city of Aleppo on October 11, 2012. Rebels cut off the highway linking Damascus with Syria's second city Aleppo, choking the flow of troops to battlefields in the north. AFP PHOTO/TAUSEEF MUSTAFA
Syrian rebels killed 14 soldiers in an attack on an army post in Daraa province on Friday, a watchdog said, a day after the army suffered 92 losses, the highest daily total of the 19-month conflict.
Six rebels were also killed in Friday's attack on the army checkpoint at Khirbata in the southern province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that fighting also raged in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.
The Britain-based watchdog said Thursday had marked one of the deadliest days of fighting since an anti-regime revolt erupted in March last year, with at least 240 people killed across the country, including the 92 soldiers, 67 rebel fighters and 81 civilians.
Of the soldiers killed on Thursday, 36 died in fighting in Idlib province, where much of the fiercest clashes have taken place over the past three months.
Regime war planes Friday attacked two buildings in the Idlib town of Maaret al-Numan, where intense fighting has raged since rebels overran it on Tuesday after a fierce 48-hour gunbattle, the Observatory said.
An AFP reporter said that the rebels, by gaining control of a stretch of highway near Maaret al-Numan, were on Thursday able to cut off the route linking Damascus to Aleppo, choking the flow of troops to battlefields in the north.
In Aleppo province, rebels attacked a large air defence battalion on the highway connecting Aleppo to Raqa province, further to the east, near to the Kweris military airport, according to the Observatory.
"The rebels attacked the air force battalion after midnight and the clashes went on until dawn, but the rebels definitely did not gain control of the post," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP by phone.
Rebels suffered a number of casualties, but immediate figures were not available. Military airports have been a key target for the rebels as the army has increasingly deployed war planes and helicopter gunships to launch devastating strikes.
In Aleppo city, regime forces pounded the districts of Haidariyeh in the northeast and Sukari and Fardoss in the southwest at dawn, as fierce fighting broke out in Sakhur, Suleiman al-Halabi and Sheikh Khodr in the northeast.
More than 32,000 people have been killed in the Syrian conflict, according to the Observatory, which compiles its data from a network of activists, medics and lawyers on the ground.