Published — Thursday 21 February 2013
Last update 21 February 2013 2:36 am
BEIRUT: Free Syrian Army threatened yesterday to shell positions of the Hezbollah militant group in neighboring Lebanon after accusing it of firing across the border into territory it controls.
“What is new in the past week is that Hezbollah has been shelling into villages around Qusayr from Lebanese territory, and that we cannot accept,” General Selim Idriss, the FSA’s chief of staff, told AFP, adding that the fighters have given Hezbollah a 48-hour deadline to stop the shelling.
Meanwhile, Syrian fighters downed a warplane over the Damascus provincial town of Hammuriyeh yesterday, shortly after an air strike killed at least 14 people and wounded dozens more there, a watchdog and activists said.
Amateur video shot by activists and distributed by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights showed a warplane firing from the sky and then going down in flames after apparently being hit.
Lacking sophisticated weaponry, militants fighting the regime of Bashar Assad have frequently used heavy machineguns to shoot down warplanes deployed to strike insurgent enclaves across the country.
“The shelling and bombardment in Eastern Ghuta province yesterday was fierce,” Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Elsewhere, troops fought fighters around several air bases and the international airport in the northern city of Aleppo, the Observatory said. In the past week, fighters have captured air bases at Al-Jarrah, Hassel and Base 80, as well as an important checkpoint near the international airport.
Yesterday’s violence came a day after some 100 people were killed across Syria, according to the Observatory. The UN says more than 70,000 people have been killed in Syria’s nearly two-year war, most of them civilians.
Meanwhile, two mortars exploded next to a soccer stadium in central Damascus yesterday, killing one player and injuring several, Syria’s state-run news agency said.
The mortar attack was the second in as many days in the capital. On Tuesday, two mortars exploded near one of Assad’s palaces, causing material damage only.
But it was the first confirmed strike close to a presidential palace and another sign that the civil war is moving closer to the heart of Assad’s seat of power and into areas of the capital once considered safe.