Syrian jets wage deadly strikes on rebel-held Homs

BEIRUT/ANKARA: Syrian government jets bombed a rebel-held district of Homs city in the west of the country on Wednesday, killing several people, rescue workers and a monitoring group reported.
A pro-Damascus media outlet said Syrian planes targeted militants in Al Waer neighbourhood after the insurgents fired at civilian areas in government-held Homs.
It was a rare deadly flare-up in the area. Al Waer has for months been spared the intense bombardment by Syrian and Russian air forces suffered by other rebel-held areas including Idlib province, controlled by President Bashar al Assad’s opponents. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least eight people were killed in the government bombardment.
The Syrian Civil Defence, a rescue service operating in rebel-held territory, did not give a figure, but said on its Facebook page that its centre in Al Waer was hit, wounding a staff member, and that there were fatalities elsewhere including women and children.
An opposition media activist in Al Waer, who gave his name as Osama Abu Zeid, said that it had been months since the last significant bombardment of the area. “Yesterday it suddenly escalated,” he said.
Turkey says targeting Raqa: Turkey on Wednesday claimed significant progress in the months-long battle to capture the IS held town of Al Bab, signalling it was looking to push to the militant stronghold of Raqa in the next stage of the operation.
Ankara launched an unprecedented incursion to support rebels inside Syria in August, making rapid advances in initial stages but has been locked in a bloody battle for Al Bab since December. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said Al Bab was now “surrounded on all sides” and the town’s outer neighbourhoods were “under control”. — Reuters/AFP