News / Middle East

    Syrian Troops Target Rebels in Damascus, Aleppo

    Free Syrian Army fighters take cover while firing a rocket on the front line in Izaa district in Aleppo Feb. 24, 2013.
    Free Syrian Army fighters take cover while firing a rocket on the front line in Izaa district in Aleppo Feb. 24, 2013.
    Syrian opposition activists say government warplanes have attacked rebel districts in Damascus and Aleppo, while rebels captured a suspected former nuclear site destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007.

    Activists posted videos on the Internet claiming to show the aftermath of Sunday air strikes on rebel strongholds in the eastern suburbs of Damascus and the Aleppo suburb of Ezaz.  There was no immediate word about casualties.

    In an apparent blow to the government, opposition sources said rebels seized the military post of Al-Khibar in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour after government forces pulled out on Friday and Saturday.  The site once housed a military complex destroyed in a 2007 air strike that Syria blamed on Israel.  Syrian authorities later razed the structures, which the U.N. nuclear watchdog said may have included a partially-built nuclear reactor.

    In other developments, French freelance photographer Olivier Voisin died in a Turkish hospital of shrapnel wounds sustained while covering the Syrian conflict near the northwestern town of Idlib.  The 35-year-old South Korea-born journalist was covering the operations of an armed opposition group when he was hit by an exploding shell on Thursday.  He had been rushed to a hospital in the Turkish city of Antakya in critical condition.

    Voisin covered the Syrian civil war for French and international media.  At least 21 journalists have been killed in Syria since the start of the two-year conflict, one of the world's deadliest for the media.

    Meanwhile, opposition activists said the death toll from Friday's suspected government missile strike on Aleppo's Tarek al-Bab district rose to at least 30.  In a statement issued Saturday, the U.S. State Department said the attack was the latest demonstration of what it called the Syrian regime's "ruthlessness and its lack of compassion for the Syrian people it claims to represent."  The Syrian government has not commented on the attack.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

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