Sources in the rescue teams said the fighter jets demolished two residential buildings and a mosque, where several women and children had taken refuge. Those killed in the attack also included a 9-year-old baby. The rebels had occupied the town earlier this month to create a buffer zone along the Turkish border. Forty-four bodies had been recovered till the last reports came in.
According to an agency report, at least 32 bodies found wrapped in white sheets at a makeshift field hospital, where plastic bags labelled 'body parts' were kept aside.
Several fighter jets surrounded Maaret al-Numan throughout Thursday morning and dropped at least 10 bombs on the town and its eastern outskirts near the besieged Wadi Def army base, which was earlier heavily bombarded by the rebel forces. Later on Thursday, five more people were killed during the bombardment on Maaret al-Numan.
In the evening, the rebels launched the 'final assault' on the base which is also a key depot for tanks and fuel provisions. The fighters destroyed three tanks. Six soldiers had also surrendered, rebel sources said.
With Agency inputs