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 
 

The Latest Images From Syria (Click to View Photo Gallery)

x
  • 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

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory 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.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid