As many as 131 people have been killed by the fire of Syrian forces across the country on Monday, activists at the Local Coordination Committees said.
“Midan is under the control of the army,” a military official told said Monday, a claim backed up by a correspondent on the ground.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least four rebels were killed in fighting across the northern city, which has been the scene of battles since July 20.
The Observatory also reported that the army shelled the strongly pro-rebel district of al-Hajar al-Aswad in Damascus in preparation for storming it, with at least one person reportedly killed and several others wounded.
Shelling was also reported in several districts of the central city of Homs, which the army had claimed to have under its control.
In the northwestern province of Idlib, pro-regime gunmen killed three members of the same family in the town of Tamanaa, said the watchdog.
Meanwhile , the Syrian army is believed to have tested missile systems for poison gas shells at the end of August, statements from various witnesses indicate.
The tests took place near a chemical weapons research center at Safira east of Aleppo, witnesses said. A total of five or six empty shells devised for delivering chemical agents were fired by tanks and aircraft, at a site called Diraiham in the desert near the village of Khanasir.
Iranian officers believed to be members of the Revolutionary Guards were flown in by helicopter for the testing, according to the statements.
The Safira research center is regarded as Syria’s largest testing site for chemical weapons. It is officially referred to as a “scientific research center.”
Scientists from Iran and North Korea are said to work in the expansive, fenced-off complex. According to Western intelligence agencies, they produce chemical agents such as sarin, tabun and mustard gas and test them on animals.
In recent months, the guards have been replaced and reinforced by more than 100 elite troops from the 4th Tank Division. In addition, power generators and large supplies of diesel have recently been brought to the plant to safeguard the supply of electricity in the event of an attack by rebels, reports say.
But the rebels don’t plan to take the site. “We hope American troops will secure the plant,” said one former army officer who deserted and joined the Free Syrian Army. “We don’t want the regime to be able to use the weapons, but neither do we want them to fall into the hands of radicals after the downfall (of the regime).”
Syria is believed to have one of the world’s largest arsenals of chemical weapons