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

Multimedia Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year 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.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid