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Syrian Air Raids Kill 34 in NW Town    04/26 11:33

   BEIRUT (AP) -- Syrian government aircraft pounded opposition-held areas in 
the country's northwest on Sunday, killing at least 34 in one strike on a town 
near the Turkish border, activists said.

   The air raid on Darkoush was the deadliest of dozens launched across Syria's 
Idlib province, where an opposition offensive has left government forces in the 
area reeling. President Bashar Assad's troops have been unable to wrest back 
any of the ground lost, despite talk of a counteroffensive.

   The Syrian military has been relying heavily on its airpower to try to 
stanch the opposition campaign, which captured the provincial capital, Idlib 
city, last month and the strategic town of Jisr al-Shughour on Saturday.

   The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local 
Coordinating Committees activist collective both reported the air raids Sunday 
on Darkoush, which is located 2 kilometers (1 mile) from the Turkish frontier. 
They said 34 people were killed.

   The Jisr al-Shughour activist coordinating committee's Facebook page also 
put the death toll at 34, and published a list of names.

   It marked the second consecutive day of heavy strikes on the town. On 
Saturday, more than a dozen air strikes on Jisr al-Shughour and surrounding 
villages killed at least 27 people, including at least 20 fighters.

   The offensive is being conducted by an array of anti-Assad groups, including 
the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front, the hard-line Ahrar al-Sham and even some 
smaller mainstream rebel factions.

   With the insurgents now in control of Jisr al-Shughour, the main fighting 
front has moved some 5 kilometers (3 miles) south of the town, said Observatory 
director Rami Abdurrahman. Anti-Assad fighters have been attacking government 
positions in a sprawling agricultural plain south of Jisr al-Shughour.

   Syria's state news agency said the army ambushed a "convoy of terrorists" 
along a road in the plain, known as Sahel al-Ghab, destroying six vehicles and 
killing those inside.

   The fight for Jisr al-Shughour began Wednesday and activists said thousands 
of fighters took part in the offensive. With the fall of Jisr al-Shughour, the 
government is left with a presence in only a few towns and military bases in 
Idlib province.


(KA)


 
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