Syria rebels seize strategic town as toll hits 40,000



Agence France Presse

Published — Thursday 22 November 2012

Last update 24 November 2012 10:29 am

| نسخة PDF Print News | A A

DAMASCUS: Rebels seized the eastern Syria town of Mayadeen on Thursday, the latest in a series of strategic advances, as the number of people killed in the increasingly violent conflict passed the 40,000 mark.
Defeated government troops fled from Mayadeen to a military airport near the main eastern city of Deir Ezzor, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
“The area east of the city of Deir Ezzor, on the Iraqi border, is now the largest area in the entire country that is out of army control,” said the Observatory’s director, Rami Abdel Rahman.
The rebel Free Syrian Army said in an e-mail to AFP that insurgents had captured an important military base on the edge of Mayadeen.
“The FSA took control of an artillery garrison in the outskirts of Mayadeen, after a siege that lasted more than 20 days,” said Fahd Al-Masri, a spokesman for the FSA.
The oil and gas-rich province of Deir Ezzor is home to Sunni Muslim tribes whose ties extend across the border into Iraq.
“In that area of Syria there are deep tribal loyalties, and fighters in western Iraq help the rebels fight the regime,” Abdel Rahman told AFP.
Despite its battlefield losses, most oil and gas fields in the large desert province remain still under regime control, said the Britain-based Observatory, which relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics on the ground.
Syria’s rebels have also overrun vast swathes of territory in northern Syria along the Turkish border and control most border crossings into Iraq and Turkey, cutting off key supply lines for the regime.
In mid-October, rebels seized Maaret Al-Numan, a strategic town in the northern province of Idlib, as well as a section of highway, thereby reducing the army’s ability to resupply its forces locked in battle for months with the FSA in the commercial capital Aleppo.
More recently, rebel fighters last Sunday captured Base 46, a sprawling army base in northern Syria after weeks of intense fighting with regime forces.
As the rebellion grows bolder, the regime is focusing its territorial ambitions on Damascus, central Syria and Alawite bastions, according to analysts.
The regime’s goal is to entrench in key positions, fight off further rebel advances and hold out for an opportune time to negotiate, they say.
Elsewhere on Thursday, warplanes carried out several air strikes on the Eastern Ghuta area on the outskirts of Damascus, said the Observatory.
The area is home to some of the rebels’ best organized and fiercest groups, and the army has struggled to put down the insurgency there for several months.
It is strategic both to rebels and the army because of its proximity to the capital.
Despite repeated failures to put down the insurgency in Damascus province, the regime on Thursday proclaimed that victory was imminent.
“The operation to cleanse Damascus province has entered ... into its final phase,” said the Al-Baath newspaper, mouthpiece of the ruling party.
West of Damascus, the army fought rebels in the town of Daraya “for the fourth day in a row,” said pro-regime newspaper Al-Watan.
Daraya is populated mainly by opponents of the regime and was the scene of a massacre of more than 500 people late August, according to the Observatory.
Thursday’s violence came a day after 122 people were killed across Syria, said the Observatory. Among them were 37 civilians, 39 rebel fighters and 46 soldiers.
The latest toll brought the count of people killed in 20 months of violence to more than 40,000, Abdel Rahman said.
“At least 28,026 civilians, 1,379 defectors, 10,150 soldiers and 574 unidentified people have been killed in Syria in the past 20 months,” he said.
The Observatory relies on a network of activists, lawyers and medics at military and civilian hospitals inside Syria for its information.
The uprising began as pro-reform protests inspired by the Arab Spring but transformed into an armed insurgency after the government began brutally crushing demonstrations.

What's happening around Saudi Arabia

JEDDAH: Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir says if the Syrian political process fails, Bashar Assad will have to be removed “by force.”“I believe Assad is weak and I believe Assad is finished,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview...
JEDDAH: Employees of the Education Office in Al-Daer governorate, Jazan, where seven people were gunned down on Thursday are in a state of shock and perplexed as to what prompted the attacker — a teacher — to take such an extreme step.The teacher, id...
JEDDAH: The campaign to support Syrian refugees with all their needs is being carried out effectively, as per the directives of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Naif and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman....
RIYADH: The Ministry of Municipalities and Rural Affairs has ordered the allocation of separate sections for female members of municipal councils.This was announced by Jedaie Al-Qahtani of the ministry. “This is in implementation of Clause 107 of the...
DAMMAM: The 9th Saudi Student Conference which is being held on Feb. 13-14 is sponsored by Umm Al-Qura University and hosted by the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. It was organized by the Scientific Society for Saudi Students in the...
RIYADH: Over the past 10 years, begging in the Kingdom has increased substantially, with the number of organized gangs of expatriate beggars increasing to 85 percent of the total number of beggars, according to Social Affairs Ministry Majed Al-Qassab...
RIYADH: The Ministry of Health said it expects its blood donation drive will received 450,000 milliliters (ml) of blood when the Janadriyah festival ends on Feb. 19.Khalid Ibrahim Zobaie, who supervises the blood donation project, said the drive is i...
JEDDAH: The Shoura Council’s decision to reduce working hours in the private sector from 48 hours to 40 hours per week would result in additional operational costs in the sector due to 30 percent higher wages for expat workers, according to Mansour b...
MADINAH: Madinah Gov. Prince Faisal bin Salman recently visited a number of ongoing developmental project sites in the Holy City, as part of his efforts to ensure that they meet the set standards and deadlines.During the visit, he said that all the s...
RIYADH: The National Guard Ministry is studying the possibility of having two countries as guests of honor each year instead of one at the Janadriyah festival for culture and heritage, the Kingdom’s most prestigious annual festival.This was revealed...
DAMMAM: The Pakistan International School in Alkhobar hosted their 49th annual prize distribution ceremony to honor outstanding students in the presence of Pakistani Ambassador Manzoor Ul Haq and his wife, Nighat Manzoor.Haq appreciated the efforts o...
DAMMAM: The Weaam Association for Family Care in the Eastern Province has succeeded in addressing more than 700 cases of family disputes during the last one year.Abdulrahman Al-Khudair, Weaam’s director of public delations, said: “The association off...
JEDDAH: The Nakheel mall case has continued to grab the limelight, with a number of lawyers now offering their services to the girl who was roughed up by some Haia members in Riyadh. Some people also expressed, through social media, their support to...
RIYADH: Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Asheikh inaugurated this week a campaign tosafeguard Saudi society against bad influences.“The campaign seeks to immunize society in the Kingdom from deviant ideas as well as utter lies and heresies that could...
RIYADH: A Filipino nurse who works at a clinic in Riyadh has been missing for a week, her colleagues has said.According to a co-worker at the clinic, the 43-year-old nurse from from Lamitan town in Basilan province, southern Philippines, wa...

Stay Connected

Facebook