Assad forces step up Damascus, Aleppo strikes
DAMASCUS: Government forces stepped up blistering attacks in Damascus and Aleppo on Wednesday after the regime said it was ready to discuss President Bashar Assad's exit in any talks on ending Syria's brutal conflict.
At least 12 people were killed in a raid on a district of the capital, while fighter jets and artillery pummelled the northern city of Aleppo and rebels claimed seizing parts of a town on the Iraqi border, a watchdog said.
On Wednesday, the violence on the ground showed no let-up after a bloody day that saw at least 198 people killed nationwide, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Fighter jets hit a rebel-held neighbourhood of the northern city of Aleppo and shelled several other areas of the city that has become the key battleground since fighting erupted there a month ago, it said.
AFP reporters also said they heard explosions caused by what residents said were air strikes around the towns of Marea and Tal Rifaat, north of Aleppo.
Twelve people were also killed by troops in a raid on a Damascus district, the Observatory said, a day after it reported dozens killed when regime forces stormed another suburb of the capital and allegedly attacked a funeral procession.
It also said rebel fighters had seized control of an intelligence office and checkpoints in the eastern town of Bu Kamal on the Iraqi border.
Syrian forces appear to be increasingly resorting to attacks from the air, particularly in the Aleppo area as the rebels continue to put up stiff resistance on the ground despite the regime's far superior military might.
A top commander of the rebel Free Syrian Army, Colonel Abdel Jabbar al-Okaidi, said the rebels now controlled 60 percent of Aleppo, but a security source in Damascus dismissed the claims.
Posted by: Steve White