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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs