8 dead as Syria rebels bombard Shiite towns: monitor

Beirut (AFP) - Syrian rebels fired around 1,000 rockets, mortar rounds and home-made projectiles at two besieged Shiite towns in Idlib province, killing eight civilians, a monitoring group said on Monday.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the civilians including a child were killed in Fuaa in the heavy fire which also targeted the town of Kafraya.

At least 12 rebels were also killed in fighting against regime forces outside Fuaa, said the Britain-based monitoring group, which compiles its information from multiple sources on the ground.

Fuaa and Kafraya are among the last regime-held outposts in the northwestern province of Idlib, most of which has been captured by an alliance that includes Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Nusra Front.

The alliance, known as the Army of Conquest, began an attack against the villages on July 15, saying it was retaliation for a regime offensive on Zabadani, the last rebel-held bastion along Syria's border with Lebanon.

It said the attack would "give you a taste in the north of what our people are tasting in Zabadani".

Al-Nusra and many of its hardline allies consider Shiite Muslims to be heretics.

Elsewhere, the Observatory and Syrian state media reported deaths in rebel fire targeting the government-controlled part of Aleppo city in northern Syria.

The Observatory said four people were killed, among them two children, and 20 were wounded in the rebel shelling.

State media put the toll at three dead in the city, which has been divided between government control in the west and rebel control in the east since shortly after fighting erupted there in mid-2012.

More than 240,000 people have been killed in Syria since the conflict began with anti-government demonstrations in March 2011.