BEIRUT -- Syrian jets bombed opposition-held buildings yesterday in the northern city of Raqqa, a day after rebels overran the onetime regime stronghold and captured its provincial governor.

A toppled statue of President Bashar Assad's father was defaced with graffiti reading, "Tomorrow will be better."

The rebels continued to battle pockets of government troops in Raqqa, struggling to crush the remaining resistance in the city of 500,000 people on the Euphrates River.

If successful, it would be the first major city they would completely control in the civil war, and it would consolidate their recent gains in the northern Syrian towns along the historic river that runs from Turkey to Iraq.

Government airstrikes and intermittent clashes, particularly around two security buildings, raised doubt about whether the rebels would be able to maintain their hold on Raqqa, about 120 miles east of the commercial capital, Aleppo.

Rebels have been making headway in Raqqa province for weeks. Last month, they captured the country's largest dam west of the city and this week, they stormed its central prison.

On Monday, they swept regime forces from much of the provincial capital, prompting residents to pour into the main square and tear down a large bronze statue of Assad's late father and predecessor, Hafez.

Images of cheering rebels and residents bringing down the statue after tying a rope around its neck were reminiscent of the toppling of the statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003 after U.S. troops stormed Baghdad. The Syrians beat the felled statue of Hafez Assad with their shoes in a sign of disrespect.

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