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Aleppo: Activists claim new Scud missile attack

Following a particularly bloody day in Damascus, activists in Syria report Scud missile attacks near Damascus airport.

Damascus car bomb 02 21 2013Enlarge
A general view shows burnt cars at the scene of a powerful car bomb explosion near the headquarters of Syria's ruling Baath party in the centre of Damascus on February 21, 2013. The blast sent thick smoke billowing across the capital's skyline, killing dozens of people and causing widespread destruction. (LOUAI BESHARA/AFP/Getty Images)

ANTAKYA, Turkey — Activists in Syria say Syrian warplanes fired Scud missiles into at least three rebel-held districts of Aleppo on Friday, killing at least 12 people, The New York Times reported.

The attacks flattened dozens of homes, and buried dozens under rubble, activitists claim.

The assertion is corroborated by video posted online.

It comes hours after anti-government activists said artillery hit targets near Damascus International Airport, the Associated Press reported.

There were no reports of casualties in that attack.

Friday's shelling, which has targeted the Damascus towns of Beit Sahm and Shebaa, located near the airport, comes after an especially bloody day in Damascus.

According to Reuters, at least 90 people were killed yesterday, after four separate bombings struck the Syrian capital.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that at least 60 of dead were killed in a car bomb in the Mazraa district of central Damascus. Most of those killed were civilians.

The attacks in the heart of the country's capital appears to indicate that rebel forces are gaining ground, perhaps even shifting the tide in the nearly two-year conflict. Last week the rebels captured the airport in Aleppo, Syria's largest city. And last month, they captured Taftanaz airbase, the government's largest military base in northern Syria.

But GlobalPost Senior Correspondent Tracey Shelton, who often reports from inside Syria, cautioned that other dramatic rebel advances have been met with harsh retaliation by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

In July 2012, for instance, a daring attempt by opposition groups to seize control of the capital led to several significant victories. In one of their most organized and united campaigns, rebels quickly gained control of several districts. But a counter attack forced the opposition forces to withdraw, and the conflict settled back into a deadly stalemate.

Rebel forces are also now facing a new and powerful enemy — Lebanon's Hezbollah.

"Tensions have been on the rise between Lebanese Hezbollah forces and Syrian rebels in recent weeks," Shelton said. "Clashes have broken out between the two groups along the border areas and rebels accuse Hezbollah of shelling Syrian towns in support of the Syrian army."

Rebel leaders issued a warning Wednesday that the Free Syrian Army will launch an attack on Hezbollah inside Lebanon if the shelling does not stop immediately.

"Further clashes along the Lebanese border could stretch the opposition's resources and delay further advances on the capital," Shelton added.

Amid all of the violence, the Syrian National Coalition, the main political opposition group has said that it would welcome US and Russian mediation to negotiate a peace deal, as long Assad wasn't a part of that deal, This Day Live reported.  

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/130222/damascus-activists-claim-shells-fired-near-airport