Reports from state-run media said that at least 15 people were killed and more than 20 were injured, some critically, after a car bomb went off on al-Hamra Street in an upscale section of Homs filled with restaurants and cafes. Many Syrians fleeing fighting elsewhere in the city have settled in the area.
Video posted online showed flames and thick black smoke billowing from the street in front of an apartment building as onlookers screamed and others rushed toward the blaze carrying red fire extinguishers.
In Damascus, Syrian forces fired rockets into suburban neighborhoods where rebels have advanced in recent days. The operation appeared to be an effort to stop opposition fighters from closing in on the city center.
Activists said clashes continued for a fourth day around Damascus’s international airport, but the government announced that the airport was open and that flights were operating on schedule. Egypt Air said it would resume flights Monday.
The day’s events suggested that the Syrian government is leaning more on its air force since rebels have overrun some army bases and seized heavy weaponry.
A group called the Aleppo Military Council announced that it is prepared to shoot down Syrian fighter jets. The group did not specify what it would use but said it is “very ready to accomplish these attacks,” implying that it has antiaircraft missiles.
The commander of a Damascus-based militia with about 15 members said its fighters had assassinated an air force officer last week and are prepared to kill more in an effort to drain the regime’s air power.
“We waited for him in the street and shot him,” said the commander, who used the nom de guerre Abu Omar al-Shami during an interview in Turkey, where he said he had come to raise money to buy silencers for the militia’s pistols.
There also was heavy fighting Sunday in the countryside around Idlib in northwestern Syria. Refugees who arrived in Turkey on Sunday said the Syrian army had intensified the shelling of numerous farming villages where residents have taken part in anti-government rallies.
On the Turkish side of the border late Sunday morning, the dull thud of explosions came every few minutes from the far side of a mountain across a large valley separating the two countries.
Salame Diab, a 28-year-old Syrian farmer, arrived midday in the Turkish border town of Hacipasa. He said at least half of his village of Ayn Assauda had been destroyed Saturday by almost nonstop government shelling. He took his wife and four children, and together with most of the villagers, left town on foot around 3 a.m. Sunday for the 10-mile trek to Turkey. Some villagers stayed behind, Diab said, to care for their sheep and cattle.