Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on September 4, 2012.
A Syrian Arab News Agency picture shows President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus in September. Forces Assad on Saturday seized a district of the central city of Homs after a fierce assault that sparked a humanitarian crisis, a watchdog said. © - SANA/AFP
Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on September 4, 2012.
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AFP
Last updated: December 29, 2012

Assad forces take district of Syria's Homs

Rebels pushed to consolidate gains in northwestern Syria on Saturday, storming a key army post and fighting for control of an airbase, a watchdog said.

President Bashar al-Assad's forces meanwhile recaptured a neighbourhood of the central city of Homs that had been held by rebels for most of the year after a fierce assault that sparked a humanitarian crisis.

In Idlib province, insurgents stormed the Hamidiyeh army post, paving the way for the takeover of the nearby Wadi Deif garrison, the Britain-based watchdog said.

Fierce clashes between loyalist troops and insurgents, mostly from the jihadist Al-Nusra Front, erupted inside the base, where loud explosions were heard.

Wadi Deif is one of the government's last outposts in the largely rebel-held north.

Near second city Aleppo, warplanes pounded rebel positions around the Menagh airbase, after rebels penetrated the perimeter on Thursday following a months-long siege, the Observatory said.

Air strikes and artillery fire were reported in several areas near Damascus, including Daraya to the southwest, where clashes raged as the army pressed its bid to retake the town.

In Homs, troops overran the Deir Baalbeh, which was the target of a major army offensive in February that left 700 people killed, most of them civilians.

Nationwide, at least 81 people were killed in violence on Saturday, 43 of them civilians, the Observatory said.

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