Syrian jets pound rebel strongholds across country

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BEIRUT — Syrian warplanes pounded opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north today as President Bashar Assad’s forces intensified airstrikes following the failure of a U.N.-backed cease-fire, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which gathers reports from a network of activists on the ground, said government jets carried out five strikes in the eastern Ghouta district, a rebel stronghold close to the capital.

Three airstrikes also hit the rebel-held city of Maaret al-Numan, which straddles a key supply route from Damascus to Aleppo and has become a main front in the civil war.

No casualties were reported in today’s strikes, the Observatory said. However, at least 185 people were killed nationwide in airstrikes and artillery shelling the day before, pushing the total death toll since the conflict began in March 2011 to over 36,000, according to the Observatory’s president Rami Abdul-Rahman.

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