Syrian opposition forces capture key village near Aleppo city

Free Syrian Army fighters help a wounded fellow fighter in Aleppo in this July 9, 2013 photo. 

Syrian rebels seized a strategic village on the edge of the northern city of Aleppo on Monday, activists said, just hours after other opposition fighters sustained some of their heaviest losses in months in battles to the south near the capital, Damascus.
The capture of Khan al-Assal is a rare bright spot in recent months for Syria's rebels, who have been battered by government forces on several fronts since June.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says opposition fighters took full control of Khan al-Assal on the western outskirts of Aleppo on Monday.
Clashes were ongoing near the village, including inside Aleppo, and several rebel-held districts were hit by airstrikes, according to the Observatory, an anti-regime activists group that relies on reports from activists on the ground.
Aleppo, Syria's largest city, has been a major front in the nation's two-year-old conflict. Rebels seized control of much of the city, and swaths of the surrounding territory, during an offensive one year ago.
Khan al-Assal has been a major front in the fight for the city. In March, chemical weapons were allegedly used in the village, killing more 31 people. The Syrian government and the rebels blame each other for the attack, and both have demanded an international investigation.
Meanwhile, in and around Damascus, government troops killed at least 75 rebels over 24 hours, the Observatory said. It was one of the deadliest single-day tolls for opposition fighters in recent months.
The death toll included 49 rebels killed in an ambush in Damascus' northeastern suburb of Adra early Sunday. An elite Republican Guard unit attacked the rebels as they were trying to push into the capital, and that the government commander leading the operation also died in the ensuing gunbattle, the Observatory said.

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