Syrian tanks enter demilitarized Israeli frontier

Associated Press Modified: November 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm •  Published: November 3, 2012
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Online activist videos claim to show the battle, with rebels firing rockets and mortars, and smoke rising over buildings and an airstrip area. An activist speaking in the video identifies it as an attack by rebels and Jabhat al-Nusra on the base. The videos appear genuine and are consistent with other Associated Press reporting in the area.

Also on Saturday, war planes hit targets in the rebellious Damascus suburbs, killing at least 10 people and wounding dozens of others, the Observatory said. Fighter jets also bombed areas around the strategic northern city of Maaret al-Numan on a key supply route from Damascus to Aleppo, the country's commercial hub. Rebels have been using Maaret al-Numan as a base to disrupt government supplies to Aleppo.

The violence comes a day before the start of a key international conference in Qatar at which the United States and its allies aim to reorganize the opposition's political leadership and unite their ranks. The leadership-in-exile has been widely seen as ineffective and out of touch with rebel fighters on the ground.

Activists say more than 36,000 people have been killed during Syria's 19-month-old conflict, which began in March last year as a largely peaceful uprising but has transformed into a brutal civil war. Daily death tolls of 100 or more have become commonplace, and the country's sectarian divisions have deepened. Many of those trying to depose Assad are Sunni Muslims, while the regime is dominated by Alawites, followers of an offshoot of Shiite Islam.

On Friday alone, 125 people were killed in the fighting. At least 35 people were killed in the regime's artillery shelling of several towns in the oil-rich eastern province of Deir el-Zour, which borders Iraq, the Observatory said. At least 33 civilians were killed in the neighborhoods around Damascus, including several civilians who were shot by snipers, the group's president, Rami Abdul-Rahman said Saturday.

At least 48 soldiers were also killed in Friday's fighting, Abdul Rahman said. The government rarely comments on the deaths of soldiers, and there was no official confirmation of the particularly high toll among troops for the day.