Syrian Rebels Seize Key Provincial City
Fighters smash statue of President Assad's father
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2013 3:20 PM CST

(Newser) – Syrian rebels today captured most of the key north-central city of Raqqa, possibly dashing President Bashar al-Assad's hope of ever reclaiming northern and eastern Syria, the New York Times reports. The rebels posted a video of them destroying a statue of al-Assad's father—former President Hafez al-Assad—in Raqqa's main square and smashing its head. Only the city's military security building remained under regime control, according to an activist, who said that "clashes are raging there right now."

After attacking Raqqa for days, rebels penetrated when government forces fled the city's main prison. Insurgents from the Al Nusra Front and other groups quickly claimed the prison and freed hundreds of prisoners. Elsewhere in Syria, activists said fighting resumed in Homs yesterday after Assad forces tried to oust rebels there with tanks and warplanes. And nearly 50 Syrian and Iraqi soldiers were killed in an ambush near a border crossing in Iraq.