Rebels claim Baath party official dead

Nov. 29, 2012 at 2:50 PM
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DAMASCUS, Syria, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- A member of Syria's ruling Baath party and three bodyguards died in a car bombing near his house in Daraa Thursday, activists said.

While state-run media only reported a deadly bombing occurred in Daraa, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Hussain Rifai was among the victims, the Gulf News reported.

Daraa is considered ground zero in the uprising against President Bashar Assad that began in March 2011.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights said 69 people died in fighting Thursday, including 18 children. The highest toll was in Aleppo where 35 died, followed by Damascus and its environs with 12. Six died in Dier al-Zoor, four in Hama, three in Homs and one each in Idlib and al-Raqqah.

Meanwhile, activists said rebels began an assault on Wadi Daif, one of the few army bases in northwestern Syria still in the hands of the government. Rebels in recent weeks have taken over several military installations and seized a cache of weapons.

Activists reported government troops shelled rebel positions near Tishrin dam, captured earlier this week by insurgents, in Aleppo province.

Outages across Syria's routed network Thursday took down all of the country's Internet service, the Web-monitoring service Renesys said.

After first reporting that 92 percent of the country's routed network was knocked out, Renesys later reported the remaining IP address blocks had gone down, "effectively removing the country from the Internet," The Washington Post reported.

"Syrian Internet is off the air," Renesys said.

The Post said if the Renesys report is accurate, Syria would be following Egypt and Libya, which shut down Internet services early in their own uprisings last year.

The Post said one possible explanation about why Syrian leaders waited more than a year to cut itself off is because Syria has used the Internet to track dissidents.

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