Syrian government forces and aircraft attacked rebel strongholds across the country on Sunday, killing at least 23 people, activists said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime airstrikes targeted rebel-held areas in the predominantly Kurdish village of Hadad in the northeastern province of Hasakah. It said at least 16 people, including two women and three children, were killed.

An activist reported plumes of black smoke rising over the town and continuous army fire from ground and air attacks. He spoke on condition that he be identified only by his nickname Abu Qasem by which he is widely known among his comrades because he feared retaliation on his family.

Also in the north, the state SANA news agency said three journalists working for state TV in Aleppo province were wounded in a car bombing. Correspondent Shadi Helweh and two cameramen, Yehia Mosseli and Ahmed Suleiman, were hospitalised with shrapnel wounds, the agency said.

They were covering Syrian soldiers who were trying to stop two suicide attackers attempting to detonate a car bomb near a security headquarters in the province. SANA said the two attackers were killed, and the journalists and several other civilians were wounded.

Also on Sunday, a rebel and a civilian were killed in airstrikes and fighting in the suburbs of Damascus, the Observatory said. It also said that four civilians died after being tortured in a jail in the town of Zakyeh, without providing further details. And the Observatory said the Syrian army shot and killed a man in the southern city of Daraa.

State TV said military forces conducted operations around Damascus and in the provinces of Hassaka, Daraa, and Idlib and Aleppo.

SANA said the army seized a truck carrying rocket launchers on a highway linking Damascus with the central province of Homs.

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