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150 Syrian regime forces killed in Khan al-Assal battle: NGO

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says at least 150 regime forces died in fighting with rebels in Khan Al-Assal

AFP , Friday 26 Jul 2013
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At least 150 Syrian regime forces died in fighting with rebels for the control of Khan al-Assal, a key town in the northern Aleppo province, a monitoring group said Friday.

More than 50 of those killed were executed by rebels after the fall of Khan al-Assal on Monday, while the rest died fighting for the regime's last bastion in the west of Aleppo province, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

Thirty of those killed in both the executions and fighting were officers, the Observatory said.

Rebels had for months tried to take Khan al-Assal, a strategically located town in the west of Aleppo province.

It finally fell into rebel hands on Monday but fighting continued on its edges the next day, said the Observatory.

Amateur video filmed by rebels and distributed by the Observatory showed the bodies of dozens of regime forces in a building that had been the site of a battle.

"Mass graves for Bashar (al-Assad's) army," says one unidentified fighter, referring to the Syrian president, as a cameraman walks through the complex filming the corpses.

"These are Assad's dogs," the unidentified cameraman adds.

Khan al-Assal is located that leads to the western part of Aleppo city, where rebels have stepped up their bid to break a year-long stalemate in fighting with the army.

The mainstream rebel Ninth Division claimed responsibility for taking Khan al-Assal in a video statement distributed on Monday.

But footage distributed on Friday by the Observatory said jihadists including Al-Nusra Front were behind the takeover.

Fierce fighting raged in March in Khan al-Assal during eight days in which 200 rebels and government forces were killed but the insurgents seized the police academy and briefly controlled other positions.

Both sides have also traded accusations that chemical weapons were used in Khan al-Assal and killed around 30 people, according to a toll released in March by the Observatory and the regime.

Elsewhere in Syria opponents to Assad's regime held protests on Friday calling for his ouster, as they have done once a week for more than 28 months, said the Observatory.

Protesters gathered in several Syrian towns and cities, under the slogan of "Friday of the Unsheathed Sword of God".

The slogan refers to a name given to Khaled Bin Walid, a companion of Prophet Mohammad, whose mausoleum in the central city of Homs was bombarded and destroyed this week.

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