Syria jets pound city captured by rebels: NGO

Syria jets pound city captured by rebels: NGO

BEIRUT - Agence France-Presse
Syria jets pound city captured by rebels: NGO

Smoke rises after what the photographer said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet loyal to President Bashar al-Assad at the Syrian town of Yaarabiya, near the main border between Syria and Iraq March 2, 2013. REUTERS photo

Syrian fighter jets on Thursday pounded Raqa, a day after rebels took full control of the northern city, a watchdog said, raising concern for the fate of loyalists who surrendered.

The flag of the Islamist Al-Nusra Front, which led the rebel assault on Raqa, flew on the building housing the city's former feared military intelligence branch, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The rebels are believed to be holding the provincial governor, whom they captured during the battle, inside the building, which has now become their headquarters, the Britain-based Observatory said.
The rebels fought off the last pockets of regime resistance and took control of the military intelligence building on Wednesday after overrunning most of Raqa, capital of the province of the same name, two days earlier.
The capture of Raqa, near the border with Turkey, marked the rebels' biggest victory on the ground since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad's rule erupted in March 2011.

The Observatory said "hundreds" of pro-regime-regime militiamen had surrendered to the rebels, adding that it feared for their fate.

Rights groups have accused regime forces and rebels alike of perpetrating atrocities against those they take prisoner.

Also on Thursday, the army rained shells down on the rebel-held Khaldiyeh district of the central city of Homs, the Observatory said.

The bombardment came a day after the army used helicopters, warplanes and rocket fire to strike Khaldiyeh.

Although the army now controls some 80 percent of Homs, several districts remain under rebel control despite a suffocating eight-month siege and several hundred civilians are trapped there.

The United Nations says at least 70,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of the uprising in Syria.