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Syrian army launches counteroffensive, calls on rebels to lay down arms

The Syrian army targeted rebels with heavy airstrikes in at least seven cities and regions Sunday, killing at least 20 people. The government also called on rebel fighters to surrender their weapons.

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Free Syrian Army fighters pose for a picture on a tank, that they claim to have seized from the Syrian Regime forces, in Homs April 5.

Mohamed Ibrahim/Shaam News/AP

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After weeks of rebel gains in the south, the Syrian regime launched a counteroffensive on Sunday with widespread airstrikes and an operation that reclaimed a northern village on a strategically important route.

At least 20 people were killed in heavy airstrikes that targeted rebels trying to topple the regime in at least seven cities and regions. To underline their resolve, the government called on opposition fighters to surrender their arms and warned in cellphone text messages that the army is "coming to get you."

State television said the aim of the counteroffensive was to send a message to the opposition and its Western backers that President Bashar Assad's troops are capable and willing to battle increasingly better armed rebels on multiple fronts.

 
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