NGO: Syrian Forces out to 'Destroy' Rebel Town Rastanإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Regime forces sent shells crashing into rebel stronghold Rastan early Thursday, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, while calling on U.N. observers to rush to the town in central Homs province.
"The army is trying to gradually destroy Rastan," Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Britain-based watchdog, told AFP.
He added that at least 30 shells smashed into the town in a 10 minute period, and urged United Nations monitors, deployed to observe a truce that has been violated daily, to immediately visit Rastan.
Encircled by the army and defended by the largest concentration of rebel soldiers in the country, Rastan has for several months been the focus of an offensive by the regime as it attempts to regain control of the town.
On Monday, the U.N. Supervisory Mission in Syria (UNMIS) reported heavy fighting near Rastan, where activists said at least 23 soldiers and seven civilians died in fierce clashes between government forces and rebels.
Elsewhere Thursday, two blasts rocked the neighborhoods of al-Jamila and al-Furqan in Aleppo, while other explosions were heard across the northern city early morning.
There were no immediate reports of casualties, the Observatory said.
In Damascus province, regime forces carried out raids in the suburbs of Irbin and Kanakar, where three people were arrested.
And in the town of al-Qatifa, clashes broke out after midnight after the defection of several soldiers from an army center.
Regime troops also stormed several neighborhoods in the southern city of Daraa "in an attempt to break a general strike" in progress. The sound of gunfire was also reported, according to the Observatory.
In Khan Sheikhun in the northwest province of Idlib, one civilian died of wounds sustained during an attack on the town Tuesday.
Clashes continue despite a truce brokered by U.N.-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan as part of a six-point plan aimed at ending violence that has swept Syria since March 2011, when the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad erupted.
More than 12,000 people, the majority of them civilians, have died since the Syrian uprising began, according to the Observatory, including more than 900 killed since the April 12 truce came into effect. On Wednesday, at least 44 people, the majority of them civilians, were killed across the country.