Syrian jets target rebels in suburbs

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Syrian fighter jets yesterday bombed Damascus suburbs as part of a government offensive to dislodge rebels from strategic areas around the capital as clashes raged around army bases and air fields in the country’s north.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes were hitting towns and villages around the capital, including Kfar Batna and Gesereen, while regime forces targeted other neighbourhoods with artillery and mortars.

It also said regime troops were battling rebels in the suburb of Daraya a day after government officials claimed the army had taken much of the strategic area, which lies on the edge of a major military air base south-west of the capital.

In northern Syria, government forces were fighting rebels over an air base and the international airport of the city of Aleppo, which includes a military base.

Syrian troops have been pushing since November to regain Daraya, which had a population of about 200,000 before the fighting.

Observatory director Rami Abdul-Rahman said government troops now control more than half of the suburb, which has been a stronghold of support for the rebels since the start of the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March 2011.