News / Middle East

Syrian Rebels Fight to Break Blockade of Damascus Suburb

A Free Syrian Army fighter prays near a weapon in a trench in Al-Maliha, a suburb of Damascus, September 8, 2013.
A Free Syrian Army fighter prays near a weapon in a trench in Al-Maliha, a suburb of Damascus, September 8, 2013.
Reuters
Syrian insurgents pressed a new assault in the strategic, heavily-defended southwestern suburbs of Damascus on Tuesday, saying they aimed to break an army blockade of rebel-held areas.
 
Rebels fired mortars at government forces while army shelling hit the suburb of Derayya, the scene of recurrent fighting during the 30-month-old Syrian conflict, activists and rebels said.
 
Insurgents have dug in around a crescent of suburbs outside the capital for about a year and a half, but President Bashar al-Assad's forces have halted or reversed their advances in several strategic districts that are now effectively blockaded.
 
Assad's air power and better-equipped ground forces have so far fended off attacks by rebels whose main arms supply routes into the suburbs were severed by the army earlier this year.
 
Fighting in Damascus subsided when the United States threatened punitive military action against Assad, but picked up after a diplomatic bargain for Syria to give up its chemical weapons averted the immediate threat of a strike.
 
The rebels' new offensive, which they named “If You Return, We Return,” united several factions operating in the area, including the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front.
 
Ahrar al-Sham, another big Islamist faction, also said it was playing a major role, along with the Sahaba Battalions, a powerful Damascus-based rebel unit.
 
A Sahaba commander said the operation aimed to relieve residents of the Derayya and Mouadamiya areas in the capital's southwestern outskirts from a “suffocating blockade” that was cutting off food, medicine and arms.
 
“There are big shortages of humanitarian and medical supplies,” said the spokesman, who goes by the name Abu Moaz,  adding that the operation had started on Monday night.
 
“The situation is very bad. No food, no water. There had to be military action,” he said.
 
The southern suburbs will be a tough target for the rebels, given that they house several major military sites, including a military airport and a base for elite Republican Guard forces.
 
A Damascus-based activist who calls himself Bassem Mohammed said the rebels were unlikely to gain from the latest assault.
 
“The regime's top forces are there,” Mohammed said. “We on the ground consider these to be 'show' operations from the Free Army, especially in cooperation with Ahrar al-Sham and Nusra. It's a war of attrition. There is no winner and no loser.”
 
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of sources across Syria, said rebels had taken control of the Tel Rakees and Tel Bouza areas south of the capital and had destroyed two vehicles.
 
A video posted online purported to show rebel fighters firing mortars at government positions.
 
More than 100,000 people have died in Syria's conflict, which began in March 2011 with peaceful protests against four decades of Assad family rule and later descended into civil war.
 
Mouadamiya was one of the sites struck by a chemical attack last month that killed hundreds of people and which Western powers blamed on Assad's forces. The government denied this.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid