Syrian troops storm northwestern town, says activists

 

Syrian troops backed by tanks stormed a northwestern town yesterday in the latest of a series of pushes by regime forces into rebel-held areas, activists said.

The British-Based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the Local Coordination Committees said the troops entered Saraqeb from the north and were advancing amid heavy shelling. The Observatory said that attackers were meeting strong resistance and that one civilian had been killed. 

Syria's government has been on the offensive over the past two months and has taken a number of rebel strongholds: the provincial capital and other towns in the northwestern province of Idlib that borders Turkey, the central provinces of Hama and Homs, and the eastern oil-rich region of Deir el-Zour that borders Iraq. 

Syria's rebels, who took up arms following the regime's crackdown on protesters, are outgunned by armored units loyal to President Bashar Assad but have opted for hit-and-run raids and ambushes. 

The Syrian government cites the rise in such attacks to boost its argument that the uprising is being carried out by terrorist groups acting out a foreign conspiracy. 

The LCC said the troops were accompanied by pro-government gunmen known as shabiha and plainclothes security agents who arrived in buses and started conducting raids and detaining people. Calls to the town could not get through. The government is known to cut networks in areas where operations are underway. 

Saraqeb, in the northern province of Idlib, has been held by army defectors for months. 

The attack on Saraqeb came 11 days after troops retook Idlib city, the provincial capital, which had been under rebel control for months. 

The Observatory said Syrian security forces killed six people throughout Syria today while the LCC put the death toll at seven. 

Earlier today, the Observatory and the LCC said troops fired mortar rounds at the rebel-held neighborhood of Khaldiyeh in the central city of Homs in apparent preparation to storm the area. 

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who is head of the Observatory, said the heavily-populated Khaldiyeh has been shelled since early morning. The LCC posted a video on its Facebook page showing smoke billowing from a residential area it said was in Khaldiyeh. 

The neighborhoods, one of Homs' largest, has been under rebel control for months. 

Homs has seen some of the heaviest fighting in Syria's year-long uprising. Government forces crushed a rebel stronghold in Baba Amr neighborhood on March 1. 

The Observatory said troops also barraged the town of Qalaat al-Madiq in Hama province with mortars and heavy machine guns. The government has been trying to enter the town for the past two weeks, it said. 

AP

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Contact Centre Advisor

£19500 - £21500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading children's chariti...

Recruitment Genius: Client Services Assistant

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client Services Assistant is ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior / Senior Sales Broker - OTE £100,000

£20000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportuni...

Recruitment Genius: Duty Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Duty Manager is required to join one of the ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor