Syria air strikes kill
dozens in rebel town

BEIRUT - Syrian air strikes on a besieged rebel town in the heart of the country have killed nearly 50 people over the past two days, a monitoring group said on Wednesday.


"On Tuesday, 25 people, including seven women and a child, were killed in air strikes on Talbisseh, in Homs province," the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, adding that a rebel commander was also among the dead.


On Monday, air strikes killed 23 people in the town, which has been under siege by the army ever since rebels seized it two year ago.


Activists appealed for help on Facebook.


"The town's hospital has received a large number of wounded patients. The hospital has no more medicines or bandages," said one activist from Talbisseh.

A security source in Damascus confirmed the air strikes.


"There are a large number of armed terrorist groups. On Tuesday, Talbisseh's most important terrorist and his brother were killed," the source said, using the regime's standard term for the rebels.


He identified the dead commander as Abu Hatem al-Dahik, head of the rebel Al-Iman Brigade.


"We will continue to target the terrorists in all their hideouts," the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.


The Observatory said that rebels in Talbisseh had shelled regime positions around the nearby rebel-held town of Umm Sharshuh as fighting raged around it.


The towns are among a number that the rebels still hold in Homs province after their withdrawal from Homs city earlier year.


The Observatory meanwhile updated to 18 its toll for the number of rebels killed in an abortive attempt to infiltrate the heart of Damascus on Monday. Two pro-regime militiamen were also killed.


One person was killed in central Damascus on Wednesday by rebel fire from its outskirts, the state SANA news agency reported.


Some 191,000 people have been killed since an uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's rule erupted in March 2011.