News / Middle East

Syria Launches Offensive Near Airport, Cuts Internet Access

An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike at a besieged area in Homs, November 28, 2012.
An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike at a besieged area in Homs, November 28, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
VOA News
Syrian forces launched a major offensive in Damascus near the country's international airport Thursday, and the government shut down Internet access across the country and slashed cell phone services in selected areas. 
 
The army attacked rebel strongholds in a string of towns along the airport road. A rebel fighter said insurgents were not inside the airport but were able to block access to it.
 
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the heaviest clashes erupted between troops and rebels in the towns of Babila and Hujaira, southeast of the capital, and in Harran al-Awamid, just east of the airport.
 
The fighting, which came after Internet links went down, caused EgyptAir and Emirates airline, based in Dubai, to suspend flights to Damascus. 
 
The wholescale Internet blackout, confirmed by two U.S.-based companies that monitor online connectivity, is unprecedented in the 20-month-long uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. Authorities often cut phone lines and Internet access in areas where government forces are conducting major military operations.
 
A pro-government television station quoted Syria's minister of information as saying "terrorists," not state agents, were responsible for the countrywide outage.
 
The British-based Observatory said rebel units launched a new offensive in the country's north, trying to take a military base near the main highway to Syria's commercial capital of Aleppo. The Observatory said rebel forces in Idlib province began moving on Wadi al-Deif early Thursday.
 
Opposition activists have been voicing increasing optimism that rebel forces are making gains and maintaining their positions against government forces. Some point to recent successful attacks against government warplanes and helicopters as evidence the conflict's momentum may be shifting. 
 
There are also renewed allegations that Syrian rebels are using child soldiers in their efforts to overthrow the Assad government. 
 
Human Rights Watch said children as young as 14 have served in rebel brigades, acting as lookouts and transporting weaponry. The human rights organization said some have even taken part in combat.

  • A view of buildings damaged by what activists said were missiles fired by a Syrian Air Force fighter jet, Daria, Syria, November 30, 2012.
  • Demonstrators hold a placard that reads "Victory sign over the palace," during a protest against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad after Friday prayers in Binsh, November 30, 2012.
  • People walk along a row of barb wire near the border with Syria, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 30, 2012.
  • Youths sit next to a row of barbed wire near the Syrian border, Sanliurfa province, Turkey, November 30, 2012.
  • An Ottoman-era building damaged by an air strike in a besieged area in Homs, Syria, November 28, 2012.
  • A Free Syrian Army fighter with an amputated hand, takes cover from a sniper loyal to Syria's President Bashar al -Assad, near Aleppo's historic citadel, November 28, 2012.
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows smoke after a building was struck in a warplane attack in Homs, Syria, November 28, 2012.
  • A man carries parts of a warplane, belonging to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in Daret Azzah, November 28, 2012.
  • This image taken from video obtained from the Ugarit News shows people near a destroyed plane that was shot down by Free Syrian Army fighters in Aleppo, Syria, November 28, 2012.
  • Residents pose near damaged wheat sacks after Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, November 26, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army and men from the northern Syrian town of Ras al-Ain unload wheat from trucks, as seen from the Turkish border town of Ceylanpinar, Sanliurfa province, November 26, 2012.
  • Smoke rises from damaged wheat sacks after Syrian Air Force fighter jets fired missiles at the town of Ras al-Ain, Syria, November 26, 2012.
  • Residents walk near debris from damaged buildings after shelling by forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad at Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 26, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army fighters are seen in Daria near Damascus, Syria, November 25, 2012.

You May Like

Russia-Ukraine Crisis Could Trigger Cyber War

As tensions between Kyiv and Moscow escalate, so too has frequency of online attacks targeting government, news and financial sites More

Egyptian Court Jails 23 Pro-Morsi Supporters

Meanwhile, Egyptian officials say gunmen have killed two members of the country's security forces More

Pakistani Journalists Protest Shooting of Colleague

Hamid Mir, a host for private television channel Geo, was wounded after being shot three times Saturday, but is expected to survive More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Major Variola
November 29, 2012 3:03 PM
At least the Brotherhood has MANPADS now.

How's that workin' out for ya?

In Response

by: Anonymous
December 01, 2012 9:27 AM
Air travel will now be more risky thanks to the "friends of Syria".


by: GB from: Florida
November 29, 2012 2:02 PM
How is it that an ottoman era building has reinforcing steel bar in the roof?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid