Syrian rebels kill 28 regime soldiers as fighting rages

  • In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over enemy positions as they wait for Syrian army troops to enter a street during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over enemy positions as they wait for Syrian army troops to enter a street during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this  Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rise up from bombing by a Syrian forces warplane in Taftanaz village, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)In this Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, black smoke rise up from bombing by a Syrian forces warplane in Taftanaz village, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)
  • In this Thursday November 1, 2012, citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect shops and a mosque which were damaged in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the  village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)In this Thursday November 1, 2012, citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect shops and a mosque which were damaged in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)
  • In this picture taken on Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect a mosque which was destroyed in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)In this picture taken on Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians inspect a mosque which was destroyed in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)
  • In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters carry out a bomb through the front line streets as they prepare an attack against Syrian army troops during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, rebel fighters carry out a bomb through the front line streets as they prepare an attack against Syrian army troops during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians check damaged shops and a mosque destroyed in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the  village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)In this Thursday November 1, 2012 citizen journalism image, provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, Syrians check damaged shops and a mosque destroyed in shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, in the village of Taftanaz, Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian rebels killed more than 75 soldiers on Thursday, about half of them in attacks on military checkpoints in the north just hours after a wave of bombings hit the Damascus area, activists said. The unusually high toll for regime forces came after days of intense air bombardment of rebel positions around the country that killed hundreds. (AP Photo/Edlib News Network ENN)
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over their enemy's position as they prepare themselves to shoot an shoulder-fired rocket towards an army tank in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, rebel fighters watch over their enemy's position as they prepare themselves to shoot an shoulder-fired rocket towards an army tank in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter runs for cover at the front line during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter runs for cover at the front line during clashes in the Karmal Jabl battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, an 8-year-old Syrian girl struggles for life at a hospital, after she arrived badly injured by an aerial attack by government forces in the Bab Al-Neyrab neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, an 8-year-old Syrian girl struggles for life at a hospital, after she arrived badly injured by an aerial attack by government forces in the Bab Al-Neyrab neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a Syrian civilian keeps vigil for his 8-year-old daughter as she struggles for life at a hospital after they were injured by an aerial attack by government forces in the Bab al-Neyrab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a Syrian civilian keeps vigil for his 8-year-old daughter as she struggles for life at a hospital after they were injured by an aerial attack by government forces in the Bab al-Neyrab neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a shocked Syrian civilian cries after arriving to a hospital injured from an aerial attack by government forces in the Karm al-Aser neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a shocked Syrian civilian cries after arriving to a hospital injured from an aerial attack by government forces in the Karm al-Aser neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, shows the destruction along a street in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, shows the destruction along a street in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter prepares to fire on pro-government forces in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).In this Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter prepares to fire on pro-government forces in the Karm al-Jebel neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria. Violent clashes re-ignited along the city's frontline while government warplanes attacked rebel controlled areas throughout the financial capital of Syria's largest city. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras).
  • In this picture taken on Wednesday Oct. 31, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows buildings which were destroyed from the shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad, at al-Qossour neighborhood in Homs province, central Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Lens Yong Homsi)In this picture taken on Wednesday Oct. 31, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Lens Young Homsi, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows buildings which were destroyed from the shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad, at al-Qossour neighborhood in Homs province, central Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Lens Yong Homsi)
  • In this picture taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, the bodies of two young Syrian girls, who were killed by the shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, lie on a hospital bed at Kfar Batikh village, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)In this picture taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, the bodies of two young Syrian girls, who were killed by the shelling by Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, lie on a hospital bed at Kfar Batikh village, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)
  • In this picture taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man mourns as he holds the body of a young girl, who was killed in shelling of the Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, at Kfar Batikh village, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)In this picture taken on Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, a citizen journalism image provided by Edlib News Network, ENN, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, a Syrian man mourns as he holds the body of a young girl, who was killed in shelling of the Syrian forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad, at Kfar Batikh village, in Idlib province, northern Syria. Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone. (AP Photo/Idlib News Network ENN)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter belonging to the Liwa Al-Fatah takes cover as he aims at an enemy position from a school building during skirmishes with the Syrian army in the nearby Bustan Al-Pasha front line in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, a rebel fighter belonging to the Liwa Al-Fatah takes cover as he aims at an enemy position from a school building during skirmishes with the Syrian army in the nearby Bustan Al-Pasha front line in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • This image taken from video obtained from Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising from the city following heavy bombing from military warplanes, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, on wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Syrian warplanes pounded opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north Wednesday, as President Bashar Assad's forces intensified airstrikes against rebels seeking to topple him, activists said. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)This image taken from video obtained from Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising from the city following heavy bombing from military warplanes, in a suburb of Damascus, Syria, on wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012. Syrian warplanes pounded opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north Wednesday, as President Bashar Assad's forces intensified airstrikes against rebels seeking to topple him, activists said. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
  • In this Thursday February 25, 2010 file photo, released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, Hezbollah leader sheik Hassan Nasrallah, right, speaks with Syrian President Bashar Assad, left, upon their arrival for a dinner, in Damascus, Syria. The powerful alliance of Iran, Syria and militant groups Hezbollah and Hamas, once dubbed the "Axis of Resistance," is fraying. Iran's economy shows signs of distress from nuclear sanctions, Syria's president is fighting for his survival, Hezbollah is under fire by Lebanese who blame it for the assassination of an anti-Syrian intelligence official and Hamas – the Palestinian arm– has bolted. (AP Photo/SANA, File)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, destroyed buildings are seen along a desolated street in the Bustan Al-Pasha district after several weeks of intense battles between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, destroyed buildings are seen along a desolated street in the Bustan Al-Pasha district after several weeks of intense battles between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, a Syrian woman is stopped and questioned by rebels at a checkpoint in the Bustan Al-Pasha neighborhood, the boundary of the controlled area by rebel fighters at the northeast limit of Sheikh Maaksoud in Aleppo, the Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 photo, a Syrian woman is stopped and questioned by rebels at a checkpoint in the Bustan Al-Pasha neighborhood, the boundary of the controlled area by rebel fighters at the northeast limit of Sheikh Maaksoud in Aleppo, the Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
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BEIRUT (AP) — Syrian rebels killed 28 soldiers in attacks on military checkpoints in northern Idlib province on Thursday, just hours after a wave of bombings hit Damascus and its outskirts, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the rebels attacked three military checkpoints near the town of Saraqeb, killing the troops. Five rebels also died in gunbattles following the attacks, according to the Observatory, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.

There was no official confirmation of the deaths from the authorities.

According to activists, the relentless fighting in Syria has killed more than 36,000 people since March 2011, when the uprising against President Bashar Assad’s regime began. It started as peaceful protests inspired by the Arab Spring but quickly morphed into a bloody civil war.

The rebels fighting to topple Mr. Assad often complain they are outgunned by the military, which in recent days has intensified airstrikes on opposition strongholds following the failure of a U.N.-backed truce over a four-day holiday weekend that never took hold.

On Wednesday alone, activists said more than 100 were killed nationwide in airstrikes, artillery shelling and fighting. Much of the violence took place in rebellious suburbs of the capital, Damascus, and in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and a major front in the 19-month conflict.

In Damascus, “terrorists detonated” three bombs in Al-Mazzeh district late Wednesday night, targeting a mosque, a sports club and a shop, state-run news agency SANA said. One person was killed in the explosion near the district’s Al-Houda Mosque, and two were wounded, the agency reported Thursday. Six people, including a child, were injured in the two other explosions, according to the report.

The government refers to rebels fighting to topple Mr. Assad as terrorists and accuses them and opposition supporters of being part of a foreign plot to destroy Syria.

Also according to SANA, authorities raised the death toll from another bombing Wednesday evening in a Damascus suburb that houses a Shiite Muslim shrine to 12, after one more victim died of wounds.

Many Syrians, particularly those in Damascus, where fighting and demonstrations have been relatively light, fear that Islamic extremists that have fought alongside rebel units may be targeting the capital more frequently to help drive Mr. Assad out of power.

Eyewitnesses of Wednesday’s blast said the assailants picked random spots to detonate explosives and stoke panic among residents.

“There was a very loud bang, and then I saw the kiosk, which sold watches, engulfed in flames,” said Abu Rami, a 44-year-old civil servant and resident of the Al-Mazzeh area. Abu Rami, who only gave his nickname for fear of reprisals, said security forces arrived in the area minutes after the explosion and sealed it off.

Another resident in the area where the explosions occurred said security must have been compromised as the district is patrolled by troops.

“I find it strange that three explosions occurred in a residential area that is completely under the control of Syrian security forces,” said the shop owner, who only gave his first name, Wael. “There are security checkpoints at the entrances and exits to al-Mazzeh, it’s very strange.”

Elsewhere in the country, 116 people were killed on Wednesday, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Observatory. Of those, 41 people were killed in Aleppo, and 35 died in heavy fighting in the suburbs of Damascus, he said.

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