The rebel Free Syrian Army is entrenched in Idlib, which is situated close to the border with Turkey
An image grab taken from a video uploaded on YouTube on March 7, allegedly shows a house on fire after shelling by Syrian forces in the embattled northwestern province of Idlib. AFP cannot independently verify this image. Syrian troops have heavily shelled Idlib in an apparent prelude to a ground assault, a watchdog and an activist said. © - AFP/YouTube/File
The  rebel Free Syrian Army is entrenched in Idlib, which is situated close to the border with Turkey
AFP
Last updated: March 10, 2012

Syria pounds protest city hours before Annan visit

Syrian troops heavily shelled the northwestern protest city of Idlib early Saturday, in an apparent prelude to a ground assault just hours before the scheduled arrival of international peace envoy Kofi Annan, a watchdog and an activist said.

"It's the heaviest bombardment since troop reinforcements were sent to Idlib earlier this week," the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdel Rahman, told AFP.

"It's the prelude to the launch of a ground offensive" in Idlib, whose province of the same name borders Turkey and where the rebel Free Syrian Army is entrenched.

Local activist Milad Fadl said: "The bombardment began at 5 am (0300 GMT). The shelling is very, very heavy.

"There are already three buildings that have collapsed in Thalathin Street in the west of the city," added Fadl, a member of the opposition Syrian Revolution General Commission.

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