Syrian jets pound rebel strongholds across country

Rebellion’s death toll tops 36,000

  • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit news network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising following heavy bombing from military warplanes in Deir el-Zour's Jbeileh neighborhood, 450 km northeast of Damascus, Syria, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday, the most intense air raids across the country since the uprising began 19 months ago, according to anti-regime activists. Activists said at least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a U.N.-backed truce was supposed to be in effect. They said the death toll for Monday so far has reached 80. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit news network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows smoke rising following heavy bombing from military warplanes in Deir el-Zour's Jbeileh neighborhood, 450 km northeast of Damascus, Syria, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday, the most intense air raids across the country since the uprising began 19 months ago, according to anti-regime activists. Activists said at least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a U.N.-backed truce was supposed to be in effect. They said the death toll for Monday so far has reached 80. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel sniper aims at a Syrian army position, seen with another rebel fighter reflected in a mirror, in a residential building in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel sniper aims at a Syrian army position, seen with another rebel fighter reflected in a mirror, in a residential building in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel sniper aims at Syrian army positions in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel sniper aims at Syrian army positions in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, photo, a street of shattered buildings is viewed partially through a mirror used by rebel fighters to keep an eye on their enemy's positions in the Karm al-Jabel battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. Syria's air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs on rebel strongholds while opposition fighters attacked regime positions, flouting a U.N.-backed cease-fire that was supposed to quiet fighting over a long holiday weekend but never took hold. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, photo, a street of shattered buildings is viewed partially through a mirror used by rebel fighters to keep an eye on their enemy's positions in the Karm al-Jabel battlefield in Aleppo, Syria. Syria's air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs on rebel strongholds while opposition fighters attacked regime positions, flouting a U.N.-backed cease-fire that was supposed to quiet fighting over a long holiday weekend but never took hold. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, photo, a rebel fighter poses holding handcuffs in the front-line neighborhood of Bustan Al-Pasha shortly after an army jet hits the rebel position in northeast Aleppo, Syria. Syria's air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs on rebel strongholds while opposition fighters attacked regime positions, flouting a U.N.-backed cease-fire that was supposed to quiet fighting over a long holiday weekend but never took hold. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Sunday, Oct. 28, 2012, photo, a rebel fighter poses holding handcuffs in the front-line neighborhood of Bustan Al-Pasha shortly after an army jet hits the rebel position in northeast Aleppo, Syria. Syria's air force fired missiles and dropped barrel bombs on rebel strongholds while opposition fighters attacked regime positions, flouting a U.N.-backed cease-fire that was supposed to quiet fighting over a long holiday weekend but never took hold. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, photo, night falls on a Syrian rebel checkpoint in the Bustan Al-Pasha neighborhood, the boundary of the area controlled by rebel fighters at the northeast limit of the Kurdish-controlled area of Sheikh Maksoud in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012, photo, night falls on a Syrian rebel checkpoint in the Bustan Al-Pasha neighborhood, the boundary of the area controlled by rebel fighters at the northeast limit of the Kurdish-controlled area of Sheikh Maksoud in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel fighter belonging to the Qatebee Sokor Al-Islam group sneaks through a residential building as he looks for a firing position during clashes between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago.(AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)In this Monday, Oct. 29, 2012, photo, a rebel fighter belonging to the Qatebee Sokor Al-Islam group sneaks through a residential building as he looks for a firing position during clashes between rebel fighters and the Syrian army in the Jedida district of Aleppo, Syria. Syrian fighter jets pounded rebel areas across the country on Monday with scores of airstrikes that anti-regime activists called the most widespread bombing in a single day since Syria's troubles started 19 months ago.(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, 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 rebel-controlled area at the northeast limit of the Sheikh Maaksoud neighborhood 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 rebel-controlled area at the northeast limit of the Sheikh Maaksoud neighborhood in Aleppo, Syria. (AP Photo/Narciso Contreras)
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows attempts to rescue the wounded following heavy bombing from military warplanes in Idlib, in northern Syria, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday, the most intense air raids across the country since the uprising began 19 months ago, according to anti-regime activists. At least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a U.N.-backed truce was supposed to be in effect, activists said, and the death toll for Monday so far has reached 80. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)This image taken from video obtained from the Shaam News Network, which has been authenticated based on its contents and other AP reporting, shows attempts to rescue the wounded following heavy bombing from military warplanes in Idlib, in northern Syria, on Monday, Oct. 29, 2012. Syrian warplanes launched 60 airstrikes against rebel targets around the country on Monday, the most intense air raids across the country since the uprising began 19 months ago, according to anti-regime activists. At least 500 people were killed over the four-day period ending Monday when a U.N.-backed truce was supposed to be in effect, activists said, and the death toll for Monday so far has reached 80. (AP Photo/Shaam News Network via AP video)

BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes pounded opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north Wednesday as President Bashar Assad’s forces intensified airstrikes following the failure of a U.N.-backed cease-fire, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers reports from a network of activists on the ground, said government jets carried out five strikes in the eastern Ghouta district, a rebel stronghold close to the capital.

Three airstrikes also hit the rebel-held city of Maaret al-Numan, which straddles a key supply route from Damascus to Aleppo and has become a main front in the civil war.

No casualties were reported in Wednesday’s strikes, the Observatory said.

However, at least 185 people were killed nationwide in airstrikes and artillery shelling the day before, pushing the total death toll since the conflict began in March 2011 to more than 36,000, according to the Observatory’s president Rami Abdul-Rahman.

At least 47 soldiers were also killed Tuesday, the Observatory said.

Syria’s crisis began as a peaceful uprising against Mr. Assad’s regime inspired by the Arab Spring, but it quickly morphed into a civil war.

The international community remains at a loss about how to stop the war. A temporary truce timed to coincide with a major Muslim holiday last week failed to take hold as more than 500 people were killed in fighting during the four-day period.

The U.S. and other Western and Arab nations have called on Mr. Assad to step down, while Russia, China and Iran continue to back him.

The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi, met Wednesday with China’s Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi to solicit Beijing’s support for international efforts to stop the bloodshed.

Mr. Brahimi said he hopes “China can play an active role in solving the events in Syria.”

Mr. Yang said China is willing to work with the international community to make continuous efforts to achieve a “fair, peaceful and appropriate” resolution, according to Xinhua.

In the past weeks, the regime has intensified airstrikes on rebel positions and strongholds, particularly Maaret al-Numan, a city of 180,000 people that fell to rebel forces on Oct. 10.

A former resident of the city said more than 70 homes have been leveled as a result of air bombardments this week alone.

“The Syrian air force doesn’t leave the skies. When the warplane goes, the helicopter comes,” the resident who identified himself as Ahmad told The Associated Press in a phone interview on Wednesday.

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