A destroyed Syrian armoured vehicle in the town of Ariha in Idlib province
A handout image released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network shows a destroyed Syrian armoured vehicle with the Arabic writing "Assad's dogs" painted on it in the town of Ariha in Idlib province. AFP cannot independently verify this image. At least 10 people have been killed as Syrian troops keep up their offensive against rebel strongholds, a human rights watchdog says. © - AFP/Shaam News
A destroyed Syrian armoured vehicle in the town of Ariha in Idlib province
AFP
Last updated: June 5, 2012

10 dead as Syria army presses assault on rebel bastions

Syrian troops kept up their offensive against rebel strongholds on Tuesday, seizing a town in the central province of Hama, as at least 10 people were killed nationwide, a human rights watchdog said.

Government forces carried out a "huge military operation" before dawn in the Kfar Oweid district of Idlib province in the northwest, killing four civilians, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Troops clashed with rebel fighters in several other areas of the province, which borders Turkey and is major focus of operations for the rebel Free Syrian Army, the Britain-based watchdog said.

In Hama province, troops and militia backed by tanks entered the town of Kfar Zita, after rebel fighters pulled out following a three-day bombardment, the Observatory said.

Militiamen looted homes and shops after residents fled, it added.

Government troops also raided the Souk al-Shajara area of Hama city, killing one rebel fighter.

Further south, rebel neighbourhoods of the flashpoint city of Homs came under renewed artillery bombardment and heavy machinegun fire, the Observatory said.

In Latakia province on the Mediterranean coast, troops assaulted the town of Al-Hafa, killing three rebel fighters, one of them a defecting army officer.

In the northeastern city of Deir Ezzor, gunmen assassinated an army colonel in front of his home, the Observatory said, while a general was killed by a roadside bomb in the neighbourhood of Barzeh, the Observatory added.

The state SANA news agency said "terrorist groups" killed three army officers in all. Two were gunned down in Deir Ezzor and another died when his car was blown up near the Barzeh district of Damascus, it said.

At least 38 people were killed in violence across the country on Monday, including at least 18 civilians, the Observatory said, adding that huge night-time protests were held in several provinces.

In the main northern city of Aleppo, once a regime bastion, demonstrators chanted: "Revolution of dignity and freedom!" Thousands waved independence flags and sang revolutionary chants, according to amateur video posted on YouTube.

In the Damascus suburbs, protesters with covered faces chanted: "God protect the Free Syrian Army!"

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