At Least 117 Killed Across Syria as Helicopters Pin Down Fighters in Taftanaz
[An Nahar] At least 117 people were killed in countrywide on Saturday as Syrian helicopter gunships deployed from a nearby airbase kept rebel fighters pinned down in the town of Taftanaz of Idlib province on the border with Turkey.
According to the Syrian Coordination Committees among the killed were women and kiddies. 44 were reported in Damascus
...The capital of Iran's Syrian satrapy...
and its Suburbs, among them 4 discovered in Daraya and 6 in Jobar; 19 in Deir al-Zour; 15 in Homs; 14 in Aleppo
...For centuries, Aleppo was Greater Syria's largest city and the Ottoman Empire's third, after Constantinople and Cairo. Although relatively close to Damascus in distance, Aleppans regard Damascenes as country cousins...
; 10 in Idlib; 9 in Daraa, 1 in Damascus Suburbs; 5 in Hama; and 1 in Lattakia.
Rebels captured the main air defense building in Albu Kamal on the Iraqi border, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding "preliminary reports" suggested they seized ground-to-air missiles.
In their assault in Albu Kamal, rebels also captured 16 air defense personnel and attacked nearby Hamdan air base, the Observatory said.
The seizure was a "major coup" for the rebels, the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told Agence La Belle France Presse, adding it sparked retaliatory shelling in the town of some 60,000 that killed at least five civilians.
In Idlib province, a major battleground on the Turkish border, rebels attacked an army roadblock in Harem district early Saturday, killing or wounding nine soldiers, the Observatory said.
State media reported a "terrorist" group had killed five members of a family in the central Marjeh district of Syria's second city Aleppo, a key battleground in the more than 17-month-long conflict.
In the central province of Hama, rebels killed at least four soldiers in a roadblock attack, the Observatory said.
It also said 18 unidentified bodies were found in the Damascus area on Saturday, most with their hands tied and some bearing signs of torture.
The official SANA news agency reported that 225 prisoners "implicated in recent events but without blood on their hands," were freed in Damascus province on Saturday.
Artillery fire hit at least two houses in the morning, a rebel commander in Taftanaz who gave his name as Abu Omar told AFP, without reporting casualties, He said most of the town has been deserted for weeks.
Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters overflew Taftanaz throughout the day, as rebels in the small town took shelter inside houses, an AFP correspondent said.
Taftanaz is located two kilometers from a major military airbase from where helicopters take off round the clock to pound rebel-held towns in the area.
On Wednesday, a group of rebels attacked the airbase but failed to take control of the site.
Posted by: Fred