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Regime steps up offensive near air base, elsewhere

| Tuesday, June 18, 2013, 7:42 p.m.

Syrian warplanes struck rebel positions near a besieged military air base and other rebel-held areas in the country's north on Tuesday as regime forces stepped up attacks against opposition fighters in the key province of Aleppo, activists said.

Rebels fighting to topple President Bashar Assad have for months been trying to take Kweiras and two other military air bases nearby without success. The government has recently gone on the offensive in the province and in areas in the country's heartland to recapture rebel-held territory.

Activists said warplanes also struck targets in the villages of Atareb and Kfar Hamra in Aleppo province, and troops clashed with rebels inside the provincial capital of the same name. There were no immediate reports of casualties. The regime has gone on the offensive in Homs and Aleppo, the country's largest city, to build on the momentum from its victory at the strategic town of Qusair earlier this month.

The violence continued to spill over the border. Heavy clashes erupted between pro-Hezbollah gunmen and followers of a radical Sunni cleric in southern Lebanon, killing two people, officials said.

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