Syrian rebels capture village 'in revenge' for Aleppo

Syrian rebels capture village 'in revenge' for Aleppo
Syrian rebels have taken control of a village "in revenge" for the recent surge in fighting in Aleppo that has killed more than 300 people.
2 min read
12 May, 2016
File: A surge in fighting in Aleppo has killed more than 300 people [Getty]
Syrian rebels have captured a village in the central province of Homs, hours after announcing the beginning of a campaign to "avenge Aleppo".

The Homs Liberation Movement said early on Thursday that the village of al-Zara had been captured from regime forces, after civilians in rebel-held areas of Aleppo province were killed in regime air raids.

"Rebel fighters first took control of the three barriers forming the first lines of defence of the village. They then captured the whole of al-Zara. Dozens of regime soldiers were killed and tanks and armoured vehicles were seized," the spokesman for the Homs Liberation Movement, Suhaib al-Ali, told The New Arab.

"Regime forces are targeting the area with heavy artillery and rockets, helicopters have dropped barrel bombs on the outskirts of the village in an attempt to prevent us from advancing," Ali said.

He added that other regime soldiers had been taken captive.

The rebel group said on Twitter that the capture of the town came in response to the recent airstrikes on Aleppo city in the north of the country.

Translation: "Given the vicious onslaught the Russian-backed militias have launched against Aleppo we have named this battle 'Victory for our people'"

It added that mostly Islamic rebel groups were taking part in the operation were Ahrar al-Sham, the Nusra Front, Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jamaa and Ajnad Homs.

Also on Thursday, regime forces captured positions from rebels in the Handarat area, north of Aleppo, as a ceasefire expired in the city itself, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.

The Russian defence ministry's coordination centre in Syria has said there had been five breaches of a ceasefire in Aleppo over the past 24 hours, killing eight civilians.

The local truce - brokered by Russia and the United States after a spike in violence in the city last month - was set to expire at midnight on Wednesday.

It had previously been extended twice after 11th-hour diplomatic intervention from major powers, but there was no immediate word of any new extension. While the truce has brought casualty rates down, violence has by no means come to a halt.

Two civilians in a rebel-held area of Aleppo were killed when a regime air raid hit their vehicle, according to civil defence volunteers.

The SOHR meanwhile said a woman and a child in the regime-held west of Aleppo were killed in shelling.

The latest truce took effect last Thursday after a surge in fighting killed more than 300 people in the city and threatened to unravel a nationwide ceasefire between regime forces and non-jihadist rebels in force since February.