Syria goes tough on rebels

The Syrian military stepped up its campaign to drive rebel fighters out of Aleppo on Monday, firing artillery and motors while a fighter jet flew over a district the army said it had retaken the day before. However, opposition activists denied government forces had entered the Salaheddine district, which lies in the southwest of the country’s biggest city and straddles the most obvious route for Syrian troop reinforcements coming from the south.

Hospitals and makeshift clinics in rebel-held eastern neighborhoods were filling up with casualties from a week of fighting in Aleppo, a commercial hub that had previously stayed out of a 16-month-old revolt against President Bashar-al-Assad. “Some days we get around 30, 40 people, not including the bodies,” said a young medic in one clinic. “A few days ago we got 30 injured and maybe 20 corpses but half of those bodies were ripped to pieces. We can’t figure out who they are.”

The opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said 40 people, including 30 civilians, were killed in Syria on Monday. Two rebel fighters died in Salaheddine. Outgunned rebel fighters, patrolling in flat-bed trucks flying green-white-and-black “independence” flags, said they were holding out in Salaheddine despite a battering by the army’s heavy weapons and helicopter gunships.

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