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Syrian government forces clash with rebels in Deraa, Hama, Homs, Aleppo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 17th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Syrian warplanes, troops have pursued a countrywide offensive. Rebel-held areas have fallen and clashes with armed groups that have pushed into cities, according to state media. Government forces have clashed with rebels in the cities of Deraa, Hama, Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and east of Deir al-Zor. The coastal government strongholds of Latakia and Tartous have been the only areas that have been spared violence.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Activists say that 15 people, including seven children were killed in an air strike that struck a family home in Husseiniyeh. Footage of people dragging the lifeless bodies of children out of the rubble has been sent to western media.

The government in Hama province that it had secured some areas and displaced families were returning to the area of Zor Abi Zaid after armed forces "cleansed the area completely of terrorists," a term authorities use for the rebels.

There are reports of renewed clashes on the Syrian border town of Ras al-Ain. Rebel forces there have been fighting armed Kurdish groups for control. The Turkish Dogan news agency says that one man on the Turkish side of the border was wounded by a stray bullet and that schools in the area had been closed due to the clashes on the Syrian side.

Some Kurdish groups are trying to assert control over parts of Syria through fights with rebels and government forces.

In addition, more than 100 people were shot, stabbed or possibly burned to death by government forces in the Syrian city of Homs, a monitoring group reported.

Women and children were among the 106 people killed by forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad as forces stormed Basatin al-Hasawiya, a poor district on the edge of Homs on Tuesday.

The United Nations had sent observers to Syria in April 2011 but after several attacks on their convoys they left in August, both sides had chosen the path of war.

The government and opposition blame each other for two explosions at Aleppo's university on Tuesday, which killed at least 87 people, many of them students attending exams.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the attack was "beyond horrific. According to eyewitnesses, regime jets launched the strikes," she said on her Twitter account.

Russia, which has backed Assad throughout the revolt both in rhetoric and through its veto of U.N. Security Council resolutions condemning Assad, dismissed suggestions Damascus was behind the explosions.

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