News / Middle East

Syrian Forces Step Up Attacks in Capital

A view of rubble and damaged buildings after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Daraya, Feb. 4, 2013.
A view of rubble and damaged buildings after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Daraya, Feb. 4, 2013.
Edward Yeranian
Syrian rebel forces stepped up their attacks on parts of the capital Damascus Wednesday in some of the heaviest fighting inside the city in months.
 
Government forces responded with heavy shelling of inner districts of the capital and closed off the city's main Abbassid Square.
 
Amateur video shows what Syrian rebel fighters claim to be an attack on a government position in the Damascus district of Joubar.
 
Opposition activists say that the attack is part of a multi-pronged rebel attack on government forces near the capital's southern ring road.
 
Witnesses inside Damascus say that government forces have been shelling to try and repel the rebel attack. Sources inside the capital also say that the city's historic Abbassid Square was closed as fighting raged nearby.
 
Rebel declaration
 
The rebel Free Syrian Army issued a declaration calling Wednesday's assault "Operation Epic in the Capital of the Omayyids" to liberate Damascus. The statement listed six rebel brigades that were participating in the battle, including the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra.
 
Earlier, a government security compound was hit in the central city of Palmyra, where a pair of suicide car bombs exploded. Activists said the bombings targeted a military intelligence compound, killing at least 12 Syrian security personnel.
 
State media described the explosions differently, saying they went off in a residential area and killed several people.
 
Peter Harling of the International Crisis Group said that the rebel attack in Damascus may be an attempt to relieve pressure on the rebel-held suburb of Daraya, which has been under heavy government shelling and aerial bombardment for days.
 
He said despite reports that government forces have pulled back from certain areas of the capital under rebel pressure, it was unlikely that the government was about to collapse.
 
"The regime has rebuilt itself into a rather cohesive fighting force and I think this notion that it's losing ground is partly an illusion," Harling said. "I mean the regime has been losing ground consistently on the economic, political, moral levels, but I think militarily it's still extremely strong."
 
Harling added that the government has "massive human resources and military assets in the capital" and that its forces are "entrenched in a large and very defensible area in the heights of Damascus."
 
A recent call for a negotiated solution to the conflict by opposition leader Mouaz al-Khatib has hit resistance from various opposition groups. The opposition Syrian National Council said that it would meet soon to discuss the proposition.

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter prepares to fire a B-10 recoilless gun in the Haresta neighborhood of Damascus, Feb. 7, 2013.
  • Free Syrian Army members raise an Islamic flag on a rooftop after heavy fighting with President Bashar al-Assad's forces, in the Jobar area of Damascus, Syria, Feb. 6, 2013.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter walks in the Haresta neighborhood of Damascus Feb. 7, 2013.
  • Boys warm up next to a fire outside a building in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus, Feb. 5, 2013.
  • Rubble and damaged buildings in Daraya after what activists said was shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, Feb. 4, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in Daraya Feb. 4, 2013. (Shaam News Network)
  • A man carries his sister who was wounded in a government airstrike in Ansari, in Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.
  • People carry a body after a government airstrike hit Ansari, Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Aleppo Media Center shows people searching through the debris of destroyed buildings after airstrikes hit Ansari, Aleppo, Feb. 3, 2013.
Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Australia-Cambodia Resettlement Agreement Raises Concerns

Agreement calls for Cambodia to accept refugees in return for $35 million in aid and reflects Australia’s harder line approach towards asylum seekers and refugees More

India Looks to Become Arms Supplier Instead of Buyer

US hopes India can become alternative to China for countries looking to buy weapons, but experts question growth potential of Indian arms industry More

Earth Day Concert, Rally Draws Thousands in Washington

President Obama also took up the issue Saturday in his weekly address, saying there 'no greater threat to our planet than climate change' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: JKF from: Ottawa, Canada
February 06, 2013 1:48 PM
The opposition is slowly creeping ahead, as they close the lines of communication, and the fighting damages infrastructure, especially water supplies the regime will have to withdraw from Damascus, or just be encircled and oversee the total destruction of Damascus. The big concern are the number of civilans that will be trapped in Damascus, if it is encircled. Most of those civilians are associated with supporting the regime, therefore I expect that they will not fare well, and they will now become the majority of the victimes; I hope they have the sense and promptly withdraw to the coastal areas, if that is at all possible. At that point in time, the situation for Lebanon will become more and more at risk; potentially remainders of the Syrian gvmt forces may push into the Bekka valley and beyond; no question, that then a new confrontation may come about. It is very unfortunate that Lebanon has not requested help from the UN to secure its border with Syria.

by: Michael from: USA
February 06, 2013 10:04 AM
The revolution or war against a dynasty, has from it's onset, the effectiveness of military arms, a priority which in turn is shared by suicide missions where armspower is first and life second. In the West, death is seen as ultimate (if it occurs, what else can matter?)

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs