Fighting in northern Syria kills 29: activists


By Barbara Surk , AP

BEIRUT, Lebanon–Shelling and firefights between Syrian government forces and rebels in the northern city of Aleppo killed at least 29 people, activists said Sunday.

The fighting occurred a day after both sides in Syria’s civil war claimed a village near Damascus fell victim to a poison gas attack.

The Britain-based Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 16 rebels were among those who died in the overnight combat with President Bashar Assad’s forces. At least 13 civilians were also killed when government aircraft dropped barrel bombs on the city’s three rebel-held districts late Saturday, the Observatory said.

Another activist group, the Syria-based Local Coordination Committees, reported heavy fighting in Aleppo, saying Assad’s warplanes launched fresh airstrikes there on Sunday.

Aleppo, Syria’s largest urban center and its onetime commercial hub, has been a key front in the civil war since July 2012 when rebels launched an offensive there. The fighting has been in a stalemate for months as the city was carved into government- and rebel-held districts that residents increasingly find dangerous to navigate.

Both activist groups also reported airstrikes on rebel positions in a village in the oil-rich Deir el-Zour province near the Iraqi border. The Observatory said at least four people were killed and scores were injured in that strike.