Syrian jets bomb opposition-held northern city overrun by rebels

By Zeina Karam

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, March 5 2013 11:31 p.m. MST

In this photo released by the Syrian official news agency SANA, taken on Monday, Sept. 17, 2012, Syrian president Bashar Assad, left, speaks with Raqqa Governor Hassan Jalali, right, after he was appointed governor, in Damascus, Syria. Opposition fighters captured Jalali after clashes overnight near the governor's office in the provincial capital, also named Raqqa. Activists said he is one of the highest-ranking officials to fall into rebel hands since the Syrian crisis began nearly two years ago. (AP Photo/SANA)

Associated Press

BEIRUT — Syrian jets bombed opposition-held buildings Tuesday in the strategic northern city of Raqqa, a day after rebels overran the onetime regime stronghold and captured its provincial governor.

A toppled statue of President Bashar Assad's father was defaced with graffiti reading, "Tomorrow will be better."

The rebels continued to battle pockets of government troops in Raqqa, struggling to crush the remaining resistance in the city of 500,000 people on the Euphrates River.

If successful, it would be the first major city they would completely control in the civil war, and it would consolidate their recent gains in the northern Syrian towns along the historic river that runs from Turkey to Iraq.

"This is the beginning, and other Syrian cities will soon fall, one by one — God willing," said Mustafa Othman, a Raqqa-based activist who spoke via Skype, with the sounds of gunfire crackling in the background.

But government airstrikes and intermittent clashes, particularly around two security buildings, raised doubt about whether the rebels would be able to maintain their hold on Raqqa, about 120 miles east of the commercial capital of Aleppo.

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