Heavy clashes erupt in Syrian capital



BARBARA SURK | AP

Published — Wednesday 6 February 2013

Last update 6 February 2013 5:31 pm

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

BEIRUT: Heavy fighting between rebels and President Bashar Assad’s forces broke out in parts of Damascus on Wednesday in some of the worst violence to hit the Syrian capital in weeks.
Activists said the clashes were focused in the city’s western districts, and residents in the heart of Damascus said the heavy thud of shelling emanating from the neighborhoods under attack was louder than in recent months, when government forces tried to dislodge rebels from the capital’s suburbs.
Damascus has not seen the scale of violence that has destroyed whole neighborhoods in Syria’s other urban centers like Aleppo and Homs. While the government has lost control of parts of those cities, it has kept a tight grip on the capital despite the rebels’ attempts to storm the city center from their enclaves in its outskirts.
Rami Abdul-Rahman, director of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights activist group, said Wednesday’s shelling of Jobar and Qaboun is part of a wider government offensive on the towns and villages on the capital’s doorstep that have been opposition strongholds since the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011.
A government official said army troops are chasing rebels in the suburbs of Harasta, Sbeineh, and Jober. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.
Fighting also erupted in the central province of Homs, where a blast targeting a military complex early Wednesday killed an unknown number people, the SANA state news and activists said.
There were conflicting reports about the nature of the explosion in the city of Palmyra. The Observatory said a car bomb blew up near a compound that houses a military intelligence branch and a state security agency, killing several regime troops.
SANA said two suicide bombers detonated cars packed with explosives near a garage in a residential area of the city, killing a number of people, wounding dozens and causing significant material damage in the area.
After the blast, rebels clashed with government soldiers guarding the compound, according to the Observatory, which relies on reports from activists on the ground.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, although car bombs and suicide attacks targeting state institutions have been a hallmark of Islamic militants fighting alongside Syrian rebels aiming to topple Assad, whose family has ruled Syria for more than 40 years.
Homs has been an opposition stronghold since the Syrian uprising erupted nearly two years ago. The province and its capital of the same name were the scene of massive protests early in the revolt, which has since devolved into a civil war that has turned urban centers like Homs and the northern city of Aleppo into battlefields.
The United Nations say more than 60,000 people have been killed since conflict started in March 2011. At least 700,000 Syrians have fled their homes, seeking shelter in neighboring countries like Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, and more than one million people have been displaced within Syria during 22 months of fighting, according to aid agencies.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Users of WhatsApp were a joyous lot on Saturday as the call facility finally became available on the popular messaging service in the Kingdom.The facility, which is for free now, through WhatsApp was earlier banned in Saudi Arabia and only me...
RIYADH: A Border Guard soldier died on Saturday in a missile attack from across the Yemeni border in Dhahran Al-Jonoub in Asir.The man, identified as Pvt. Abdulilah Abdullah Hamoud Al-Shahrani, was patrolling the border in the area when the attack to...
RIYADH: Custodian of Two Holy Mosques King Salman takes pride in his religion and his country, according to Prince Sultan bin Salman, Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) chairman.“King Salman lives his life in a confident and re...
RIYADH: Justice Minister Walid Al-Samaani and Khaled Al-Muhaisin, the president of the National Anti-Corruption Commission (Nazaha), are scheduled to meet soon to clear resolve differences between Nazaha and Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). According...
JEDDAH: Starbucks has clarified that the ban on women’s entry at one of its Riyadh stores is only temporary and that the coffee shop will be opened to them soon after a separation wall is erected.Starbucks reportedly said that members of the Committe...
RIYADH: The Saudi government is strongly supporting the development of organic farming and institutional capacity building as part of an ambitious plan to expand the Kingdom’s shift toward organic agriculture, which will be good for the country’s nut...
RIYADH: An attempt to smuggle in 2.4 million amphetamine pills was foiled along the coast of Tabuk.An Interior Ministry spokesman said the traffickers fled from the coast after they were chased by Border Guard patrols.The spokesman said a suspect boa...
RIYADH: King Saud University (KSU) closed the booths of five companies which participated in the recently concluded five-day Career Week because of lack of interest in employing applicants.Career Week, held under the auspices of Custodian of Two Holy...
RIYADH: The Kingdom has been developing Oroug Bani Maradh as a protected area for eco-tourism in the heart of the Empty Quarter.Aside from a number of live flora and fauna, there’s are non-domesticated animal species in the wildlife sanctuary located...
JEDDAH: Two women and three children, including an infant, lost their lives in separate fire incidents on Friday.A woman and two children died when their tent caught fire at Al-Issawi, 35 km into the desert, on Friday. The operations room of Civil De...
RIYADH: Arrangements are being made at the Ministry of Health to open a new portal for the Zika virus on its website.Faisal Al-Zahrani, the ministry spokesman, said that the new portal will give adequate details and updates about the virus which has...
ARAR: A Saudi father has urged his two sons to immediately surrender, after their names recently appeared on the list of suspects who participated in the terror attack on the Special Emergency Forces Mosque in Asir in August last year.Salem Yaslam Al...
JEDDAH: The Ministry of Education has called on schools to implement a national anti-drug plan and given a four-month period to implement the plan and report the results.Educational directorates, according to a recent circular, have issued a directiv...
NAJRAN: School of Dentistry students at Najran University expressed disappointment with group failure of 13 students, accusing the faculty members of being unfair with their examinations.The university spokesman, Dr. Zuhair Al-Omari, said the eighth...
JEDDAH: Pakistan and Kashmir expatriates observed Kashmir Solidarity Day at the residence of Pakistan Consul General Shehryar Akbar Khan on Friday.Abdul Aziz Al-Jiffry, professor at King Abdul Aziz University, was the chief guest.The event was meant...

Stay Connected

Facebook