Syrian warplanes strike rebel-held town in north

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BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes today struck a strategic rebel-held town in the country’s north in an attempt to reopen a key supply route, activists said, as a U.N.-proposed cease-fire meant to start this week appeared increasingly unlikely to take hold.

In some of the heaviest fighting today, Syrian aircraft attacked Maaret al-Numan and the village of Mar Shamsheh, as troops and rebels battled over a nearby Syrian military camp that has been under siege for days, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group.

Earlier this month, opposition fighters seized Maaret al-Numan, which lies along the main highway between Aleppo and the capital Damascus, and their presence there has disrupted the regime’s ability to send supplies and reinforcements to the northwest. That has hampered the government’s fight in Aleppo, where government troops are bogged down in a bloody fight for control of the country’s largest city.

The U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria has suggested that both sides in Syria’s 19-month-old conflict lay down their arms during Eid al-Adha, a four-day Muslim holiday that begins Friday.

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