Fighting rages between rebels and the regime in Daraa, 50 homes destroyed in Aleppo

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The Free Syrian Army (FSA) and President Bashar al-Assad’s forces battled over a “strategic” town in the southern province of Daraa, where the Syrian uprising started two years ago.

Opposition media reported heavy rocket fire at Dael after the FSA claimed it was “victorious” in taking control of the southern town, a battle it dubbed “Mother of Martyrs.”

Syrian rebels controlled Dael, a key town on a main highway between Damascus and the south, their latest advancement in the Daraa province, which borders Jordan, a watchdog said on Friday.

“Rebels seized control of Dael after destroying the three army checkpoints at the entrances to the town,” the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

“The town is located on a main road linking Daraa to Damascus.”

Home to 35 thousand people, Dael is also considered “strategic” because it was previous the launch pad from which the Syrian regime used to attack anti-regime fighters in the province.

According to FSA, Dael on Friday has become the first southern town in Deraa to be “freed” from the Syrian regime’s control.

It is now expected the FSA will launch an offensive on Assad’s forces, which are concentrated in central Deraa. The opposition fighters have sounded an alarm claiming regime forces will use people in Deraa as “human shields”.

The capture of Dael came a day after a loyalist MP from Daraa, Walid al-Zohbi, said rebels were advancing “in all towns and villages in Daraa province, which is torn from east to west after the army withdrew from many positions.”

“They may have pulled out for tactical reasons, we don’t know. But at any rate, terrorists from Al-Nusra Front have taken their place,” he added of a jihadist group with roots in Iraq which is blacklisted by Washington as a terrorist organization.

On Sunday, the Observatory reported that the rebels had seized a swathe of land stretching 25 kilometers east to west along the Jordanian border to the sensitive ceasefire line between Syria and Israel.

Eastward, the FSA said it was in control of an oil field near the borders of Iraq, and liberated Al-Tal area which is located in the Al-Qaseer region in the central province of Homs.

The Free Syrian Army added that it had killed eight regime soldiers.

According to the opposition fighters, after taking control of al-Tal, they seized two Syrian regime armored vehicles and an unspecified amount of weapons and ammunition.

Meanwhile, a scud missile fell on Haritan town in the northern province of Aleppo. It has destroyed 50 homes, leaving a number of people, mostly women and children killed and wounded.

With the help of Kurdish forces, the FSA said it was able to seize the al-Shaikh neighborhood in Aleppo.

In the capital, regime forces renewed aerial bombardment of the eastern Al-Ghota region, while clashes occurred in al-Thaiabiya and Bahdaliya suburbs.

At least 113 people -- 43 civilians, 44 soldiers and 26 rebels -- were killed in violence nationwide on Friday, the Observatory said.

In all, more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria since March 2011, the United Nations says.

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