News / Middle East

Battles Rage in Damascus

A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on July 17, 2012 shows opponents of the regime blocking the roads with burning tires in Damascus on July 16, 2012.
A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on July 17, 2012 shows opponents of the regime blocking the roads with burning tires in Damascus on July 16, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Fierce clashes between rebels and government forces rocked the Syrian capital for a third day Tuesday in the heaviest period of fighting in the city since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began 16 months ago.
 
The sounds of gunfire and tank shells reverberated across large parts of Damascus, bringing the popular rebellion a notch closer to the center of power. Eyewitnesses say fighting engulfed parts of Baghdad Street, a major boulevard in the center of the city.
 
Amateur video showed plumes of black smoke rising over the city's skyline, as helicopters circled several key districts. Many residents are reported to have fled the hardest hit regions of the capital.
 
Abou Mourad, a resident of the Midan district, speaking over the sounds of gunfire, told Alhurra TV that heavy fighting was engulfing the area.
 
Rebels hail offensive 
 
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider firing his weapon during clashes with Syrian government troops in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers at the border town of Azaz, 32 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider driving a Syrian military tank in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show a helicopter gunship flying a bombing run in al-Qalmoun, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image provided by Shaam News Network shows smoke rising from Juret al-Shayah in Homs, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show damage from heavy shelling of the al-Qadam district of Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in a house in Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 16, 2012.
  • A woman holds a child in front of their destroyed home in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers northwest of Hama, July 14, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers aim their weapons in Idlib, northern Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011 purports to show a funeral for victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012. (AP/ Hama Revolution 2011)
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011purports to show families gathered around bodies of victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army walk through Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 15, 2012.
The Latest Images From Syria (Click to View Photo Gallery)
Free Syrian Army commander Qassem Saad al-Din told the French news agency, AFP, that "the battle for Damascus has begun."
 
Syrian state TV showed a brief video of its correspondent in the Midan district, claiming that "all is quiet." 
 
The government-run TV also showed images of a burnt-out electricity sub-station, claiming that rebel forces had destroyed it.
 
Electricity Minister Imad Khamis said that sabotage of the electrical sub-station has cut power supplies in the east of the capital and some suburbs. He said the government is trying to repair and bring the station back online.
 
Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says the battles taking place in Damascus are part of a government offensive against rebel positions.
 
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under AttackDamascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
x
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
He says that rebel fighters retreated into Damascus after suffering reverses in the suburbs during a government offensive. Diab says that the Free Syrian Army retreat took government forces by surprise, but says the government has enough loyal forces to fend off the rebels.
 
Continued diplomacy
 
The battles come as faltering efforts at diplomacy continue. 
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said during a visit to Jordan that it is "imperative to have a Chapter 7 resolution" of the United Nations Security Council to mandate the implementation of a peace plan brokered in April by envoy Kofi Annan. That plan has failed to take hold amid continuing fighting between the government and rebels.
 
Article 41 of Chapter 7 calls for the imposition of sanctions in cases where "peace is threatened."
 
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he sees no reason why the Security Council cannot find a consensus for a resolution on the Syria crisis.  He spoke after a meeting between Mr. Annan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
China and Russia have vetoed previous Western-backed Security Council resolutions calling for tough action against Syria.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to China for talks with President Hu Jintao. The official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary Tuesday rejecting foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis.
 
"Sovereign equality and noninterference in internal affairs is a red line that must not be crossed," the commentary said.  "A political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem."
 
Yeranian reported from Cairo. Some information was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Nigeria Incumbent in Tight Spot as Poll Nears

Muhammadu Buhari is running a strong challenge to Goodluck Jonathan, amid a faltering economy and Boko Haram security worries More

Video Liberia's Almost-Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo tells VOA that despite her fame, life is still a struggle as she waits for government's promise of support to arrive More

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

At least seven different indigenous groups in Ratanakiri depend mainly on forest products for their survival, say they face loss of their land, traditional way of life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mr Hasan Abdulla from: United Kingdom
July 18, 2012 2:49 AM
A political solution? Seems that the UN desires another Bosnia situation.

by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
July 17, 2012 10:38 AM
This is a good day to fight for the city of Damascus. The rebellion looks very strong. I think if they can keep this unrelenting pressure, in this siege on the city, it will fall.
In Response

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
July 17, 2012 2:19 PM
The road to Damascus gave inspiration to Saul of Tarsus. When the historical process is finished with something that thing becomes thrown to the dogs. The road to Damascus is to become a very long one. Every knee will bend.
In Response

by: Pinckney from: UK
July 17, 2012 12:49 PM
we are very happy for them... just keep them in the Middle East... we don't want them in Europe, thank you

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More