Air Strikes, Clashes in Syria After Truce Bid

Posted October 28th, 2012 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Syrian activists say government aircraft pounded opposition strongholds on the outskirts of Damascus and troops clashed with rebel fighters in several other areas of the country Sunday, leaving a U.N.-backed truce declared for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha largely in tatters.

Amateur videos posted on YouTube appeared to support claims of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that government airstrikes hit the capital city's Sunni Muslim suburbs of Irbin, Harasta and Zamalka.

The Observatory and another activist group, the Local Coordination Committees, said government troops also shelled those areas in an attempt to drive out rebels.

Fighting was also reported near Maaret al-Numan, a town along the Aleppo-Damascus highway that rebels seized earlier this month. Opposition fighters have also besieged a nearby military base and repeatedly attacked government supply convoys heading there.

The fighting Sunday comes on the third day of what was to be a four-day holiday cease-fire between the government and rebels.

Both sides in the 19-month-old conflict have violated the truce, brokered by international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi. It was to begin on Friday, but 150 people were killed that day. On Saturday, about 50 people were killed. According to a preliminary count compiled by the Observatory, at least 23 people were killed on Sunday.

Eid al-Adha marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Muslim holy sites in Saudi Arabia.