News24

Syrian troops shell Damascus outskirts

2013-01-08 12:27

Beirut - Syrian troops bombarded rebel bastions on the outskirts of Damascus before dawn on Tuesday while fighting had erupted for control of the northwestern town of Mastuma, a watchdog said.

Troops shelled the towns of Maliha and Beit Saham to the southeast of the capital near the Damascus airport road and the town of Douma to the northeast, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

It said that army reinforcements were also arriving at Daraya in a bid to regain control of the town, where hundreds were killed in August in the bloodiest massacre of the 21-month conflict.

The Local Coordination Committees (LCC), a network of opposition activists on the ground, reported that Daraya and nearby Moadamiyet al-Sham came under heavy shelling from the elite Fourth Division and Brigade 105 stationed in the area.

A military source said that a rocket-propelled-grenade hit an armoured troop carrier on Monday in the orchards west of Moadamiyet al-Sham, causing casualties.

Maintaining grip

Analysts say the Syrian regime is focused on maintaining its grip on the key axis stretching from Damascus to the central province of Homs and on to the coastal Alawite heartland after its forces were driven from large swathes of territory in the north and east by rebels.

The Observatory said that in the northwest province of Idlib, displaced residents of the town of Mastuma reported troops storming the area during the night, clashing with rebels and executing a number of local men.

A military source had earlier saidthat the army drove rebels out of Mastuma, just south of Idlib city, with the support of a "special tasks battalion".

The Observatory said fighting for control of the town was still raging.

"There were fierce clashes starting from last night and they are continuing this morning. For sure there were people killed in clashes and by execution but we are not sure how many," Observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.

Detention centre

The residents said that snipers had been deployed throughout the town and that troops were stationed in the nearby Baath party camp, which according to the Observatory was turned into a military detention centre in the summer of 2011.

Abdel Rahman noted that the detention centre was a strategic target for its stores of tanks and weapons.

Elsewhere in the province, a military source said that clashes had erupted around the strategic Wadi Deif base, which has been under attack since opposition fighters took over the nearby town of Maaret al-Numan in early October.

Tuesday's violence comes after 78 people were killed nationwide on Monday - 48 civilians, 18 rebels and 12 soldiers - according to the Observatory, which collects information from a network of medics and activists on the ground.

The United Nations estimates more than 60 000 people have been killed since a brutal crackdown by President Bashar Assad's forces on peaceful protests 21 months ago stirred the violence.

Comments
  • sean.bagley.50 - 2013-01-08 13:15

    Syria biggest aid in all this is Iran,who by the way is a major stumbling block in getting a peace deal between Assad and these "Rebel fighters".Saudi Arabia through the Arab League is trying to aid the people of Syria,but Assad is making sure none of that is getting through. The Rebels were hoping international pressure would force Assad out by now.But unfortunately that hasn't happened as yet.Their guerilla-type warfare with Assad's army is going nowhere as Assad is far too strong for them by the looks of it.Assad already said he'll live and die in Syria,so there you go what more does the West want. Russia's backing of Assad has forced NATO into reluctance to intervene, which only worsens Syria's situation.The fact that Assad is now sending out peace proposals,means the insurgency is perhaps getting somewhere.Frankly put,Assad doesn't live in reality,neither does he knows quite exactly how terrible his or Syria's situation truly is.

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-08 16:19

      "Saudi Arabia through the Arab League is trying to aid the people of Syria,but Assad is making sure none of that is getting through." When did propaganda become so thinly veiled or is it that my eyes are WIDE open to it these days. I like your use of distorted argument for propaganda purposes to "prove" what you want to believe. At least it's relatively intelligent propaganda!

      dean.cent.3 - 2013-01-08 16:23

      Assad is terrible news and truly a bad dictator. It really doesn't help when the West pursues their own interests against the people who vote them in to aid and abide terrorist organisations that murky the waters of those "rebels" that truly need innocent help. Let us all stop corporate and governmental interests and start to truly help those in need.

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-08 18:33

      Assad might be a terrible bad dictator but his government still represents a significant portion of the Syrian population, including Sunnis. Is there a justification in fighting back when you do represent a portion of the population (which Assad no doubt does). Is it a war crime to fight back?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-01-08 19:09

      . ""Assad might be a terrible bad dictator..........."" Nooooooooo, WRONG AGAIN!!! He is a GOOD dictator but a SCUM of a leader !!!!! ""but his government still represents a significant portion of the Syrian population, including Sunnis"" HOW do you know this??????????????????? Did Patrick tell you this ??? Or did you go to a fortuneteller????? """Is there a justification in fighting back when you do represent a portion of the population """(which Assad no doubt does!?!?!!?!?!?!?!?!). To make out as if the Syrian people are the 'aggressor" is so unbelievable abusive towards the Syrian population!!! The Syrian people are fighting BACK as their 'DICTATOR' TERRORIZES 'his' people and shows a brutality and vicious behaviour, seldom seen ANYWHERE in this world, in the last FIFTY YEARS!!! ( Only Bosnia comes to mind ) The Syrian people don't only have the RIGHT to fight back, IT IS THEIR DUTY!!!!

      fidelity.mcoshi - 2013-01-08 19:25

      They are fighting every day for Assad, peace and their own lives, their friends and their loved ones.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2013-01-09 19:47

      . You mean by terrorists soldiers, who would otherwise starve or worse; SHOT OR BLOWN UP !!!!

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