Beirut: Syrian forces backed by tanks
stormed the central town of Qalaat al-Madiq and nearby villages today after a siege lasting more than two weeks, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
The Britain-based monitoring group said the troops
entered the town, in Hama province, just after dawn following
a 17-day barrage of shelling and heavy gunfire to root out
Abu Ghazi, a local activist reached by Skype, told AFP in
Beirut that members of the rebel Free Syrian Army had
withdrawn from the area because of the regular army`s superior
"The rebels were engaged in hit-and-run operations and
were trying to protect the local population and delay the
storming of the town," he said.
Qalaat al-Madiq is home to a historic castle that was
been shelled during the fighting, as seen in videos posted on
The army`s offensive follows a series of attempts by the
regime of President Bashar al-Assad to claim control of a
number of rebel strongholds, as it tries to crush an
Fierce clashes were also reported today in the southern
province of Daraa, cradle of the year-long revolt that has
left more than 9,000 people dead according to the United
"Intense clashes erupted at dawn between regime forces
and armed rebels in the town of Bosra al-Harir after an
officer warned local residents to surrender the rebels or face
an assault," the Observatory said.