Damascus: A barrage of mortar shells hit government-held areas of the northern city of Idlib on Monday, killing 14 people and wounding at least 40, Syrian state media said.
Idlib is the provincial capital in northwestern Syria and it has been under the control of President Bashar Assad`s troops since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in March 2011. Rebels trying to overthrow Assad`s government control the areas around the city. They have been besieging the city for more than two years, firing mortars into the government-held areas and clashing with Assad`s troops at its outskirts.
The state-run SANA news agency said mortars shells fell on several parts of Idlib on Monday afternoon, including a residential area and a market. State TV said children were among those who died in the attacks, and at least 40 people were wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks. State TV blamed "terrorists" for the attacks, a term the Syrian government uses for rebels trying to overthrow Assad`s government.
Also today, activists reported heavy clashes between several Syrian rebel factions and an al-Qaida breakaway group fighting for control of a border crossing with Iraq in eastern Syria.
The fighting in the town of Boukamal, on the border between Syria and Iraq, between rebel groups and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant comes just hours after the jihadi group declared the establishment of a transnational Islamic caliphate.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the infighting was concentrated in the town and the nearby border crossing as different factions sought control of the frontier.
The al-Qaida breakaway group, which yesterday declared the establishment of an Islamic caliphate, controls much of northeastern Syria. In Iraq, it has recently captured cities and towns as well as border crossings, effectively erasing the frontier.
The group says its Islamic state stretches from northern Syria to the Iraqi province of Diyala northeast of Baghdad, and has called on all Muslims worldwide to pledge allegiance to it.