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Syrian Rebels Attack Shiite Villages   11/23 12:26

   BEIRUT (AP) -- Al-Qaida militants and Syrian rebels launched an attack 
against two predominantly Shiite Muslim villages in northern Syria that have 
been under siege for some 18 months, activists and a monitoring group said 

   The Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory 
for Human Rights monitoring group said the assault on the pro-government 
villages of Nubul and Zahra began overnight.

   Fighters from the al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front joined by Islamic rebel 
groups took control of an area south of Zahra on Sunday, the Observatory said. 
It added that at least eight rebels and several pro-government fighters have 
been killed in the clashes.

   The Local Coordination Committees said the fighting was focused on the 
southeastern outskirts of Zahra.

   Hard-line Sunni opposition fighters have besieged Nubul and Zahra, which 
have a combined population of some 40,000, since the spring of 2013. The 
villages are located just off of a highway running from the city of Aleppo to 
the Turkish border.


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