Syria rebels seize ammo depot: Watchdog

Fighting rages as main opposition National Coalition calls on armed groups to "exercise restraint".

Afp August 03, 2013
More than 100,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Syria's 28-month conflict, the United Nations says. PHOTO: AFP

BEIRUT: Rebels battling Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime captured an arms and ammunition dump in the Qalamun area near Damascus early on Saturday, a watchdog said.

In the north, fighting between Kurds and militants raged as the main opposition National Coalition called on armed groups there to "exercise restraint".

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said several groups, including the jihadist al Nusra Front, were behind the capture of the depot of anti-tank weapons and rockets.

"Liwa al Islam, al Nusra Front, al Tawhid battalion, the Maghaweer (rebel commando force) and the Qalamun Martyrs' battalion... captured an ammunitions depot near the village of Qaldun in the Qalamun area" northeast of the capital, the Britain-based Observatory said.

They seized "anti-tank weapons and ground-to-ground Grad missiles, as well as a variety of other ammunition, after clashes overnight from Friday to Saturday", it said.

In Damascus itself, fighting was reported in the flashpoint southern belt, as loyalist forces pressed a months-long bid to dislodge rebels from the city's outskirts.

Elsewhere, the army shelled rebel-held areas of the central city of Homs, focusing on the neighbourhoods of Juret al Shiyah and Qussur, said the Observatory.

After the rebels lost the Khaldiyeh district this week, the army has pushed on with its bid to dislodge them completely from Syria's third city.

In the northern province of Hasakeh, militants and Kurds clashed two weeks after the expulsion of radical militants from the strategic Kurdish town of Ras al Ain, opening up a new front.

Syria's main opposition group called on warring parties in the north to "exercise restraint... to ensure the safety of civilians and secure the release of detainees".

Earlier this week, groups linked to al Qaeda took hostage some 200 Kurdish civilians in the northwestern province of Aleppo.

The Coalition had so far been silent on the Kurdish-militant fighting, but on Saturday it said "Assad's militias... are the only target that Syrians' guns should be aimed at".

More than 100,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Syria's 28-month conflict, the United Nations says.

On Friday alone, at least 110 people were killed across Syria, the Observatory said.


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