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DAMASCUS: Fighting raged in Syria yesterday, as peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and Germany’s foreign minister held talks with Turkish officials amid tensions between Damascus and Ankara.
Rebels and activists said a Syrian regime warplane was shot down near Aleppo, while part of the embattled northern city’s historic Ummayad mosque was set ablaze in fighting as rebels attacked army positions inside, monitors said.
And a car bomb blast near Damascus killed eight people, including a child and two women, in Al Nabak on the road to Homs province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Rebels blocked army reinforcements from advancing towards the town of Maaret Al Numan, which has been under rebel control for several days. In its bid to retake the town, strategically located in the northwest on the road from Damascus to Aleppo, warplanes bombarded it, killing two civilians and destroying three homes.
Rebels also shot down a warplane some 10km west of Aleppo where fierce battles were taking place, a defected army officer said. In Aleppo itself, fierce clashes raged in and around the Umayyad mosque. Rebels entered into the complex by planting an explosive device at the southern entrance, a military source said. Rebels say the army used the massive mosque complex as a base of operations because of its strategic location.
The Britain-based monitoring group said at least 101 people were killed yesterday — 36 civilians, 33 soldiers and 32 rebels. More than 33,000 people have now been killed since the uprising against Assad’s rule erupted in March last year, it added.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for reform of the UN Security Council to help resolve the crisis, after Russia and China have repeatedly used their veto powers to block resolutions condemning Syria.