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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Syrian Rebels Claim Gains in North

by VOA News July 22, 2013

Syria's rebels say they are making gains in the country's north just a day after taking heavy losses near the capital of Damascus.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Monday that rebel forces had captured the village of Khan al-Assal, on the outskirts of Aleppo.

Skirmishes continue near the village and there have been reports of airstrikes by the Syrian military.

Khan al-Assal has been a key front in the battle to control Aleppo, Syria's largest city. Both rebels and the Syrian government accused one another of using chemical weapons during battles there this past March, resulting in the deaths of about 30 people.

The report of rebel success in the north of Syria comes a day after rebel forces near Damascus took heavy losses. In one battle Sunday, government forces ambushed rebel troops in the suburb of Adra, killing 49 rebels.

Syria's rebels have suffered from infighting and clashes with Islamist forces that had joined the rebels in their efforts to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Separately Monday, Syrian Deputy Prime Minister Qadri Jamil was in Moscow for a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Lavrov said Russia is convinced the Syrian government and the rebels can only settle their differences through dialogue. He also called on the government and the opposition to work together to expel all 'terrorists and extremists' from Syria.

As many as 100,000 people have been killed in more than two years of fighting with millions more displaced.

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