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

Islamic State Survivor: A Yazidi Girl's Tale

Sarah Said Haydar, captured a year ago while fleeing Islamic State onslaught in northern Iraq, was so traumatized by militants, she sought to end her own life More

EU, US Applaud Kosovo Law on Special Court

Joint statement says lawmakers' decision to address allegations of war crimes 'demonstrated their commitment to the rule of law and to honor international agreements' More

ASEAN Ministers to Push for S. China Sea Agreements

According to documents obtained by VOA Khmer, ministers will stand up for 'freedom of navigation, unimpeded lawful maritime commerce, trade and over flight' 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.
Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Tradei
X
Robert Carmichael
August 04, 2015 3:07 PM
Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Cambodia Makes Progress Curbing Bear Trade

Cambodia’s wild bears are under unprecedented pressure. Their native forests are being cut down at record rates, and China's huge demand for traditional medicine has made them targets. But experts say Cambodia's conservation efforts are setting an example that has put it well ahead of its neighbors in protecting bears. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.
Video

Video Growing Number of E. Jerusalem Palestinians Seek Israeli Citizenship

Most Palestinians living in East Jerusalem have long rejected the option of full Israeli citizenship, seeing it as a betrayal to their political cause - the formation of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. But as that dream remains elusive, more and more Palestinians are applying for Israeli citizenship. Zlatica Hoke reports the decision is hard for many Palestinians who say they have to be pragmatic about it.
Video

Video With No Money, More Students, African Universities Struggle

Academics from around the African continent converged in Johannesburg last week for the African Universities Summit, a chance to tackle some of the major issues facing higher education in Africa today. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Wisconsin's Voter ID Law Still Mired In Controversy

Voter ID laws have sparked controversy across the US. More than 30 states enacted laws requiring citizens to show identification before they vote. Against fierce opposition, the state of Wisconsin recently enacted one the most restrictive voter ID laws in country. As Jeff Swicord reports, no one can predict its impact as the 2016 election nears.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Hailed as Highly Effective

At last, there's a way to end the suffering from the Ebola epidemic that has ravaged West Africa for more than a year. Researchers say the vaccine is so effective, there may never be a major outbreak of Ebola again. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs