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Syrian Regime Warplanes Hit areas of Homs, Deraa | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A street in Homs in March 2014. Asheqa and Trad say their house has been destroyed and they have nothing to go back to. REUTERS/

Syria regime warplanes reportedly bombarded a besieged rebel-held district of Homs on Saturday, killing at least two people and raising the death toll to more than 20 in two weeks, an activist and monitoring group said.

Warplanes also hit rebel-controlled areas in Deraa in southern Syria during a series of heavy raids over the last day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said.

In Deraa, regime and Russian warplanes increased their bombardment of rebel-held areas, carrying out at least 70 air strikes on the city and towns in the eastern Deraa countryside on Friday and Saturday, the Observatory reported.

At least four people were killed by air strikes in the town of Umm al-Mayadhin, and one person in Busra al-Sham, it said.

For months, Al-Waer, the last rebel-held neighborhood in the western city of Homs, had been spared much of the intense violence raging elsewhere in the country, as the regime tried to conclude an agreement with Syrian opposition factions there.

Bombardment of the area resumed earlier this month, rescue workers and the British-based Observatory said.

The Observatory said three people were killed on Saturday, bringing the death toll since then to at least 30 people. An opposition media activist in al-Waer said two people had been killed and put February’s overall death toll at more than 20.

Damascus has tried to conclude a deal in al-Waer that would see rebel fighters and their families leave the district and regime forces take over.

The opposition says such accords are part of a regime strategy to forcibly displace populations from opposition-held areas after years of siege and bombardment.

In September, some 120 rebel fighters and their families left al-Waer in agreement with the government, but there have been no further reports of any rebels leaving. The Observatory estimates several thousand opposition units remain there.

Russia backs Damascus in its fight against insurgents, but has supported along with rebel-backer Turkey a ceasefire deal that was put in place on Dec. 30 and covers western Syria.

The warring sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire and fighting has tarnished it almost since it began.