Syrian troops recover rebellious suburb

2012-06-30 18:00
AP

AP

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Beirut - Syrian troops have regained control of a rebellious Damascus suburb after a 10-day assault that left dozens dead, hundreds wounded and caused a major humanitarian crisis, activists said on Saturday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and local activist Mohammed Saeed said troops recaptured Douma outside the capital late on Friday.

The latest campaign was the worst of several assaults on the area, with dead bodies left in the streets, the Observatory said.

"The situation in Douma is catastrophic. The suburb is badly destroyed," said Saeed via Skype, adding that he was among dozens of residents who on foot through the fields to safer areas for fear of being captured by security forces.

Douma has been a hotbed of dissent since the uprising against President Bashar Assad began in March last year.

'Fate unknown'

Troops loyal to Assad are strong in central Damascus, but have battled to control the ring of suburbs and settlements in the surrounding countryside. The army launches frequent offensives into the suburbs only to see them slip back into rebel control.

Saeed said troops stormed two makeshift hospitals where seriously wounded people were being treated. "The doctors fled and the wounded remained. Their fate is unknown," he said.

The latest violence came as representatives of global and regional powers tried Saturday to agree on a peaceful formula to end the bloody crisis in Syria, including the role of Assad in a transitional government.

The talks hosted by the United Nations at its European headquarters in Geneva are seen as a last-ditch attempt to salvage the peace plan brokered by the UN-Arab League envoy Kofi Annan.

Annan warned that if nations trying to end the country's violence fail to act they face an international crisis of "grave severity". He said history "will judge us all harshly if we prove incapable of taking the right path today".

Diplomats pessimistic

Russia's determination to preserve its last remaining ally in the Middle East has collided head-on with the desire by the US and other Western powers to replace Assad with a democracy. Diplomats are growing pessimistic that the UN-brokered conference can bridge the Russia-US divide.

Activists say more than 14 000 people have been killed as the conflict has becoming increasingly militarized. Fighting also has left several rebel strongholds facing dire conditions.

Douma's residents suffer from daily shelling as well as shortages of food, electricity and running water, according to the Observatory. It also cited a shortage of cooking gas that has prevented people from cooking food since the latest campaign began on June 21.

The Observatory said about 100 families, mostly women and children, remain in Douma as men had to flee because of waves of arrests. Dozens of wounded people also are holed up in shelters and need urgent treatment after troops took over the main hospital in the area and damaged it, the Observatory said.

"Many of the wounded have died because of bad medical conditions," the Observatory said.

Shelling and clashes

The state-run news agency Sana said troops continue to pursue "terrorist groups" in Douma, raiding their hideouts and destroying their communications and other equipment. Clashes resulted in the death of dozens of terrorists - the official term authorities use for rebels - and the wounding and arrest of many others, the statement said.

In other violence on Saturday, a car bomb exploded in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria's largest, damaging a government building but causing no casualties since the building was closed for the weekend, according to Sana.

Activists also reported shelling by government troops and clashes between rebels and government forces in the central provinces of Hama and Homs, the eastern region of Deir el-Zour as well as Idlib and Aleppo to the north. Activists said at least 22 people were killed in violence Saturday.

In Egypt, Arab League deputy chief Ahmed ben Heli told reporters that a Syrian opposition meeting will be held Monday in Cairo.

More than 200 Syrians representing opposition groups from inside and outside the country have been invited along with foreign ministers from the five permanent UN Security Council members - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia, he said. Also invited were Annan and envoys from Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Turkey and Tunisia.

Common vision

They will discuss agreeing on a common vision to deal with the next stage, he said.

The regional and international participation will only be in the opening and closing sessions while the opposition groups alone will discuss the issue for two days.

Previous attempts in the past weeks to hold a similar meeting at the league's headquarters in Cairo failed because of differences between opposition groups.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague welcomed next week's meeting.

"In our view the transition must involve representatives of all Syrian communities," he said in Geneva.

- AP
Read more on:    kofi annan  |  bashar assad  |  syria  |  uprisings
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
5 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/Sport
 

3 sports games you have to watch this weekend

Whether it’s date night or a braai with buddies, plan around these three exciting sporting games!

 
 

Men24.com

How to maintain your mo, bro
Hottie of the day: Colette
Pro-skater Tony Hawk rides a hoverboard!
10 ways to drive her wild!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There is a strong desire to be unique, self sufficient, right and in control today. Your mind is fast today and you may have the...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.