Battles rage in Syria ahead of talks at the United Nations

BEIRUT Wed Sep 18, 2013 8:21am EDT

1 of 9. Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters fire their weapons during what the FSA said were clashes with forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at the Al-Arbaeen mountain in the Idlib countryside September 17, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Houssam Abo Dabak

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian warplanes struck rebel-held areas and clashes between militants and government forces continued unabated on Wednesday, residents and opposition groups said, while key powers met to forge a deal that would eliminate Syrian chemical weapons.

Activists said President Bashar al-Assad's air force hit the neighborhood of Berze, a northeastern part of central Damascus, where rebels are trying to push further into the city.

Air strikes and skirmishes are countrywide but the key fight is in the capital, where Assad controls central districts but has lost suburbs.

Diplomats from five nations will continue talks on Wednesday in New York on a Western-drafted U.N. Security Council resolution to take over, with Syrian cooperation, and then destroy Syrian chemical weapons. But Russia rejects Western assertions that Assad's forces, and not rebel groups, carried out an August 21 poison gas attack.

The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which says it provides objective information about casualties on both sides of Syria's war from a network of monitors, reported violence in nearly every province.

It said war planes hit parts of southern Deraa province where the revolt started and that rebels and government forces clashed in the major cities of Homs, Deir al-Zor and Aleppo.

In Idlib province, which borders Turkey, the Observatory cited activists as reporting the killing and burning of 11 civilians by the army. Reuters cannot confirm reports due to security and reporting restrictions.

It said that in the northeast, near the border with Turkey, Kurdish militants had captured the village of Alok from an al-Qaeda linked group after four days of intense battles in one of Syria's numerous localized conflicts.

(Reporting by Oliver Holmes in Beirut and Dan Williams in Jerusalem)

FILED UNDER:
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Comments (21)
Fromkin wrote:
Western officials are simply making up stuff. The chemical weapon that terrorists used in Syria came from Turkey.

Sep 17, 2013 8:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Fromkin wrote:
Western officials are simply making up stuff. The chemical weapon that terrorists used in Syria came from Turkey.

Sep 17, 2013 8:20pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
oxen wrote:
Russia should just ignore France leaders. It looks the current French leadership lacks basic common sense or is too greedy to accept a peaceful diplomatic solution to Syria short of bombings and massacre like the colonization times. USA can talk with Russia. France is just a menace in this situation and serves no useful purpose to Syrian people.

Sep 17, 2013 8:21pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

Full focus