'Heavy fighting' in Syrian capital

2012-03-19 12:06

Amman - A heavy fire-fight broke out on Monday between Free Syrian Army rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad in a main district of the Syrian capital Damascus that is home to several security installations, witnesses said.

They said the sound of heavy machinegun fire and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) echoed through the heavily guarded al-Mezze district. There was no immediate word on casualties but residents said by telephone the fighting was intense.

"There is fighting near Hamada supermarket and the sound of explosions there and elsewhere in the neighbourhood. Security police have blocked several side streets and the street lighting has been cut off," a housewife who lives in the area said.

The fighting in the capital came after a car bomb ripped through a residential area of Syria's second city Aleppo on Sunday, and as activists reported heavy clashes across the country between state forces and rebels fighting to overthrow Assad.

As hundreds gathered on Sunday in Damascus to mourn victims of car bombings the previous day, activists said security forces beat and arrested people at a march of more than 200 when protesters began shouting "the people want to topple the regime".

Among those arrested and beaten was Mohammed Sayyed Rassas, a leader of the National Co-ordinating Body for Democratic Change (NCB), an opposition group which had visited China and Russia in attempts to promote dialogue between Assad and the opposition.

Most opposition groups have rejected the NCB over its insistence on non-violence and its stance against foreign intervention.

World powers

Security forces also arrested Farzand Omar, a doctor and politician from the party "Building the Syria State", when he arrived at the Damascus airport from his hometown of Aleppo.

World powers have been unable to stop more than a year of bloodshed in Syria, a country that sits on the fault lines of several regional and ethnic conflicts. Recent army gains against rebel positions have shown no sign of quelling the violence and no negotiated settlement is in sight.

The United Nations says more than 8 000 people have been killed and humanitarian conditions are grim. The government says about 2 000 members of security forces have been killed.

In Aleppo, Syria's commercial hub, state news agency SANA said terrorists were behind the car bomb that killed two people and wounded 30 others when it exploded in a central area close to a state security office and a church.

The explosion came a day after twin blasts on Saturday killed 27 people in Damascus and wounded nearly 100 others.

Aleppo had seen less unrest than much of Syria but has recently been hit with more violence as the revolt spreads and becomes increasingly bloody.

The semi-official news channel al-Ikhbariya said security forces had been tipped off about the bomb in Aleppo and had been moving residents out of the area when it went off. It said the car had been filled with 200kg of explosives.

  • Anthony - 2012-03-19 12:18

    "the people want to topple the regime".

      Matt - 2012-03-19 14:10

      No, they want the violence to end. A measly crowd of 200 chants a catchy phrase and you assume the rest of the population feels the same. The \opposition\ is becoming more and more violent and desperate in its media manipulation techniques, this is further distancing itself from the TRUE, non violent opposition.

      Anthony - 2012-03-19 14:45

      The opposition was non-violent for most of this popular uprising. It were the thousands of brave soldiers, who no longer were prepared to kill their own , who started to fight back the terrorists under the command of this assad, supported by Russian "advisers/experts. But as nobody seems to want to listen to them , the opposition is now arming itself and joining the fight against these TERRORISTS. They first said "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" with the corrupt and ever so violent assad family, And now they say "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH" with their mothers,fathers, sisters, brothers, and their daughters and sons, being killed by these assad dogs, hiding on rooftops. As no outside help is forscoming, they are now going after these dogs, and kill them. Their anger of 45 years of state tyranny, and now 8000, mostly opposition members killed, has now spilled over. For over one year there have been warnings for this, but they fell on the deaf ears of the West, and than Russia and China,decided to put oil on the fire!!!

      nowicki1 - 2012-03-19 18:20

      Try less writing, more looking into the situation thoroughly from both sides. No one wants to hear someone regurgitating the "mainstream" view using the same propaganda techniques.

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