Air raids on rebel areas near Damascus, Kurds advance: NGO

BEIRUT- Syrian air and land forces pressed efforts to crush rebel-held pockets around Damascus on Saturday, as Kurdish fighters in the country's north drove home advances against jihadist groups, monitors said.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the air force carried out raids on Sbeineh, south of the capital, as regime troops shelled the town.

Rebels on the capital's southern front were battling government troops backed by both pro-regime militias and fighters from the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, it said.
"The strike was part of the regime's offensive against rebel areas in and around southern Damascus," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
There has been a marked escalation along Damascus' southern belt, which has been under a suffocating siege for months, giving rise to widespread malnutrition especially among children.
The regime has for months been trying to secure the capital, which is surrounded by rebel positions.
State news agency SANA, meanwhile, said two people were wounded in shelling by "terrorists" of the Bab Jabieh neighbourhood of central Damascus.
Southeast of Damascus, several mortar rounds smashed into the majority Christian-Druze neighbourhood of Jaramana, wounding nine people, said SANA.
In rebel-held Yabrud, northeast of the capital, one person was killed and several others were wounded in a car bomb explosion, according to the Britain-based Observatory.
Elsewhere, Kurdish fighters pressed an advance against the Al-Qaeda-linked Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the majority Kurdish province of Hasake, said the Observatory.
On Saturday, they took over several villages and military positions surrounding Ras al-Ain, which borders Turkey.
According to the Observatory, Kurdish militia are now in control of a stretch of 25 kilometres (15 miles) along the Syrian-Turkish border, to the west of Ras al-Ain.
The advance comes less than a week after Kurdish fighters drove out the jihadists and took over the Yaarubiyeh border crossing with Iraq.
In the Christian village of Sadad in central Homs province, scene of fierce clashes as rebels and jihadists fought to seize massive government arms warehouses, the bodies of six civilians were found in a well, among them two children, said the Observatory.
The group, which relies on a network of activists and medics on the ground for its information, had earlier reported a higher civilian death toll of seven.
The latest documented deaths took the total number of dead found in Sadad to 45, including 15 women, the monitoring group said.
Clashes in the area began on October 21, and in the week that followed killed 100 regime troops and at least 80 jihadists fighting alongside the rebels, it added.
In the northern province of Aleppo, meanwhile, regime troops took over the village of Aziziyeh, days after seizing the strategic town of Sfeira from rebel hands, according to the Aleppo Media Centre, a network of activists.
Syria's conflict, which has killed more than 120,000 people and forced millions more to flee their homes in 31 months, followed a regime crackdown on pro-democracy protests.

Sunday, November 3rd 2013

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