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July 18, 2012

Live: Clashes Reported in Syria's Capital

by VOA News

This live blog has now ended. For updated coverage on Syria, please see our home page.


18:20 UTC: The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights tells VOA close to 100 people have been killed in anti-government related unrest across Syria on Wednesday, including 18 in Damascus. The opposition group says 63 civilians and 43 security force members have died. Fourteen deaths occurred in the Daraa region and four in the flashpoint Homs region.  Earlier Wednesday, SANA said armed forces units “chased down terrorists” who had “infiltrated” the Midan neighborhood in Damascus, killing and arresting a “large number of them.” SANA also said clashes erupted in Homs region after an “armed terrorist group” attacked security forces in several villages.

17:10 UTC: The White House says Wednesday’s bombing in Syria makes it clear that President Assad is losing control, violence is increasing instead of decreasing, and all of the U.S. partners need to come together to support a political transition. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney says the situation in Syria is getting more violent every day.

16:55 UTC: The White House says President Bashar al-Assad is “losing control” in Syria.  National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor says the U.S. is working with its international partners to push for a political transition.

16:54 UTC: In an interview with VOA, Assad biographer David Lesch predicted the Assad regime will not take this attack lying down. "It’s a question of strength at this point. They could unleash themselves either in a series of assassinations against opposition figures or in a massive attack. Gloves are off, so to speak. But they also have to be careful not to do something that elicits an international response.”

16:33 UTC: Photo from Russia Today correspondent.
16:19 UTC:  Russian U.N. envoy says U.N. Security Council has postponed a vote on Syria resolution until Thursday, according to Reuters.

16:18 UTC: Iran has condemned Wednesday’s bombing in Damascus and urged foreign powers against what it calls interference in Syria’s domestic affairs. According to the state-run IRNA news agency, Iran’s foreign ministry said foreign “interference” and weapons shipments into Syria have played a role in what it called “terrorist moves in the country.”

16:10 UTC:Syria's official news agency, SANA, is reporting that President Assad has appointed Gen. Fahd Jassem al-Freij as Minister of Defense.

15:56 UTC: The United States has announced sanctions against 29 Syrian government officials.  The move freezes any assets the officials may have in U.S. jurisdictions and prohibits Americans from doing business with them. The Treasury Department also announced Wednesday that it has targeted five companies with ties to Syria’s weapons program.

15:25 UTC: Arab League foreign ministers will hold an emergency meeting in Doha, Qatar, Sunday to discuss the latest developments in Syria

15:20 UTC: Official statement from the Syrian government on the bombing.



15:10 UTC: "It's obvious that what is happening in Syria represents a real escalation in the fighting and that all of the concerns that we've expressed about the need for Assad to step down, the need for a peaceful transition, the need to achieve a peaceful solution to that situation. That by ignoring those appeals by the international community, that the violence there has only gotten worse and the loss of life is only increased. Which tells us that this is a situation that is rapidly spinning out of control."

--Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, commenting on the bombing that killed at least two senior Syrian officials


14:34 UTC: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan , at a news conference in Moscow with Russian president, says the will of the Syrian people should determine what happens in Syria. Turkey wants “massacre” in Syria to come to an end.

14:27 UTC: Al Jazeera reports gunfire in some neighborhoods around capital.  Reports of rebels armed with knives roaming through some neighborhoods.  Activists say military has deployed tanks around presidential palace.

14:26 UTC: Live video purportedly streamed from a rooftop in the Maidan neighborhood in Damascus, Syria.