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Night falls Tuesday on a Syrian rebel checkpoint in the Bustan Al-Pasha neighborhood,
Narciso Contreras/ASSOCIATED PRESS
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Date published: 11/1/2012
BEIRUT--Syrian warplanes fired missiles at opposition strongholds around Damascus and in the north on Wednesday as Turkey, a key backer of the anti-regime rebels, appeared to distance itself from an earlier call to impose a no-fly zone.
The Syrian regime has intensified airstrikes in recent days following the failure of a U.N.-backed truce over a four-day holiday that never took hold. Activists said at least 110 people were killed nationwide in airstrikes, artillery shelling and fighting Wednesday.
Wednesday's casualties pushed the death toll since the conflict began in March 2011 to more than 36,000, according to Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Much of the violence took place in rebellious suburbs of the capital Damascus and in the northern provinces of Idlib and Aleppo. The Observatory said government jets carried out multiple strikes in the eastern Ghouta district, a rebel stronghold close to the capital.
Airstrikes also hit the rebel-held city of Maaret al-Numan, according to Observatory, which gathers reports from a network of activists on the ground. The city straddles a key supply route from Damascus to Aleppo and has become a main front in the civil war.
In the past weeks, the regime has intensified airstrikes on rebel positions and strongholds, particularly Maaret al-Numan, a city of 180,000 people that fell to rebel forces on Oct. 10. A former resident of the city said more than 70 homes have been leveled as a result of air bombardments this week alone.
"The Syrian air force doesn't leave the skies. When the warplane goes, the helicopter comes," the resident who identified himself as Ahmad told The Associated Press in a phone interview. He spoke from a nearby village and would only give his first name for fear of reprisals from the regime.
Most of the city's inhabitants have fled due to heavy fighting, Ahmad said.
"Everyone has fled, you can't live here anymore," Ahmad said, adding that rebel groups, including the al-Qaida-inspired Jabhat al-Nusra, had flocked to the area to defend it.