Syria ushers in 2013 with more violence

Syria ushers in 2013 with more violence

Syria ushers in 2013 with more violence

Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters prepare their weapons in Aleppo’s Izaa district. REUTERS photo

Syrians woke up to air strikes near Damascus on New Year’s Day as Aleppo airport was closed after repeated rebel attacks.

The violence came a day after activists reported finding the corpses of dozens of people who had been tortured, another sign of the gruesome nature of the conflict, and as the regime said it welcomed any initiative for talks to end it.

Warplanes bombed the northeastern and southwestern suburbs of Damascus in a fresh bid to push rebels further from the capital, and troops attacked insurgent strongholds on the road to Damascus airport.

“Three air strikes by MiG planes have targeted Daraya since the morning, and the shelling is continuing,” Abu Kinan, an activist from the town southwest of Damascus said.

Battles have raged for weeks outside Damascus where insurgents have set up rear bases.In northern Syria, where insurgents hold huge swathes of territory, authorities announced the temporary closure of Aleppo airport after rebel attacks in recent days.

Continued attempts to target civilian aircraft

“There have been continued attempts by opposition militants to target civilian aircraft, which could cause a humanitarian disaster,” an airport official told Agence France-Presse. But he added that the airport would be closed for a “very short period of time” while the army tries to regain control of rebel-held areas around it.

The Observatory reported that the closure came after a blast, likely due to rebel shelling, hit a civil airplane as it took off Dec. 30. Violence ravaged Syria into 2013 with the gruesome discovery on Dec. 31 of what activists said were dozens of corpses in a Damascus neighbourhood.

“Thirty bodies were found in the Barzeh district. They bore signs of torture and have so far not been identified,” the Observatory said.