May 21, 2013
War intensifies across Syria
Rebels battled to hold onto Syria's main northeastern highway today as government forces fought insurgents on several fronts across the country.
The rebels captured an air defense base east of Syria's biggest city, Aleppo, and government forces unleashed air strikes and artillery bombardments on the western city of Homs, activists said.
On the Turkish-Syrian border, Turkey scrambled two fighter jets after a Syrian military helicopter bombed the Syrian border town of Azmarin.
The incident was the latest sign that tension between Ankara and Damascus is surging at a time when the 19-month-old conflict is deepening with no sign of a diplomatic breakthrough and growing concerns that it could spread across the Middle East.
The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights gave a death toll for yesterday of more than 260 people, including civilians and combatants on both sides, in violence in the capital and the north, west and east of the country.
It said 92 soldiers had been killed yesterday, one of the highest daily tolls on the government side since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad broke out in March 2011.
The official SANA news agency also reported fighting nationwide and said dozens of rebels, which it called "mercenary terrorists", had been killed.
The reports could not be independently verified but they indicate an intensifying conflict, with the daily body counts of the past several weeks far exceeding previous months.