Syrian Islamist rebel shoots big gun 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
BEIRUT - Syrian rebels seized the northern town of Khan
al-Assal on Monday, activists said, one of the last towns in the western part of
Aleppo province that was held by President Bashar Assad's forces.
army build-up around the province in order to retake Aleppo city has been dogged
by rebel counter-attacks, although a string of government victories elsewhere in
Syria has shifted the battlefield tide in Assad's favor after more than two
years of bloodshed.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an
anti-Assad monitoring group, said army officers surrendered the town on Monday
morning after rebels surrounded a southern district.
Video footage posted
on the Internet by rebel groups showed army tanks withdrawing from the town.
Another video showed a dead commander who rebels said led the government
resistance in the town, which has been besieged for weeks.
Aleppo is part
of a crescent of regions in northern Syria that have become a stronghold for
rebels fighting to end four decades of rule by the Assad
Insurgents have been blockading government-held areas in Aleppo
city, Syria's largest urban center and once its commercial hub. Aleppo has been
mired in a bloody stalemate since rebels launched an offensive in the province
Assad's forces have responded to the rebel advance on Khan
al-Assal with a string of air raids in the area.
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The Observatory says
more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria's insurgency, which grew out
of street protests in the southern town of Deraa in March 2011. Millions of
people have been displaced and ancient buildings and artifacts have been
destroyed across the major Arab state.
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