Syrian rebels pushed government troops from most of the northern city of Raqqa Monday, and then scores of cheering protesters tore up a poster of President Bashar Assad and toppled a bronze statue of his late father and predecessor, activists said.
If the rebels seize control of Raqqa, it would be the first time an entire city falls into the hands of anti-Assad fighters. Rebels hold parts of major Syrian cities such as Aleppo in the north, suburbs of Damascus, the central city of Homs and Deir el-Zour in the east. They also control large areas in the countryside, particularly in the north.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said rebels are now in control of "large parts" of Raqqa, a city on the Euphrates river that flows through Syria into Iraq. A top police officer was killed and intelligence officers were detained, the group said.