BEIRUT — The Syrian army intensified its aerial bombardment Friday of southern Syria as opposition fighters were preparing to launch a wide offensive in a province bordering Jordan, activists said.

The Local Coordination Committees opposition network and an anti-government activist in the area said air raids and government shelling in Daraa province killed at least two people Friday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, another activist group, reported that airstrikes on several areas in Daraa killed a man and a child. It said warplanes and helicopter gunships attacked the towns of Enkhil and Ghabagheb, as well as the village of Naima and the capital of Daraa province that carries the same name.

Daraa is where Syria’s uprising started nearly three years ago with anti-government protests that later spread throughout the country. It turned into a civil war that has killed more than 140,000 people, according to opposition activists.

The army in recent days also has stepped up its use of barrel bombs in deadly airstrikes on rebel-held areas of Daraa. The crude bombs – barrels filled with explosives, fuel and scraps of metal – had so far been used mostly against rebel held areas in the northern city of Aleppo and near Damascus, the capital.

An amateur video released by activists showed smoke billowing from Naima after being struck by barrel bombs. Another video showed men running through dust created by a strike in the city of Daraa before reaching a two-story house bombed into a pile of rubble. A man could be heard shouting in the background: “My father!”

Several activists said the attacks come as opposition fighters were preparing to launch a push from the area toward Damascus in coming days. The rebels tried several times over the past two years to reach the capital but were crushed by Syrian troops.

The activists, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were speaking of military plans, claimed thousands of U.S.-trained rebels are getting ready to attack government positions throughout Daraa province.

The CIA has led U.S. outreach to the rebels outside Syria, meeting them at refugee camps and towns along the Turkish and Jordanian borders. CIA paramilitary officers and special operations trainers have trained select groups of rebels in Jordan on the use of encrypted communications equipment and have helped them learnto fire anti-aircraft weapons and small arms provided by Gulf states.

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