Syria rebels bombed as opposition open to peacekeepers
By Oliver Holmes
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian jets bombed rebel-held areas of Damascus on Saturday, residents said, as the opposition indicated it could accept an international peacekeeping force if President Bashar al-Assad is forced from power.
Warplanes attacked the Damascus suburbs of Kafar Souseh and Darraya, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an opposition-linked group. The air strikes follow intensified rebel activity in the capital, Assad's seat of power, as well as successful stormings of government military bases in recent weeks.
"Syrian regular forces are trying to control the areas surrounding the capital," the Observatory said. Bombings targeted a continuous arc of rebel presence in the capital's outer districts from the northeast to the southwest.
Activists reported clashes and air strikes in the provinces of Homs, Deir al-Zor, Idlib and in Aleppo, where they said 14 rebel fighters were killed during an assault on an army base in the town of Khanasser early on Saturday.
It is difficult to verify such reports due to government restrictions on media access to Syria.
Syria's Internet connections began working again on Saturday after a two-day blackout, the worst communications outage in the 20-month-old uprising against Assad in which 40,000 people have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to flee the country.
Opposition umbrella group the Syrian National Coalition might allow an international peacekeeping force into Syria if Assad and his allies leave power, coalition spokesman Walid al-Bunni said on Saturday.
Some opposition members have argued against international troops, saying their arrival could serve as a rallying call for Assad loyalists in an area near the Mediterranean where many of his minority Alawite sect live. Continued...