Damascus suburbs hit as Syrian rebels launch deadly raid
Rebel fighters stormed an army post in a Damascus neighbourhood killing six soldiers, while intense shelling by regime forces sent residents fleeing in panic, a watchdog and activists said on Tuesday.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least two civilians died when Douma, in the capital’s northeast, was rocked by shelling following the deadly raid by the rebels during the night on a medical centre that has now been taken over by the military.
“The army had transformed the centre into a barracks and snipers were positioned there,” observatory director Rami Abdel Rahman said.
An amateur video posted by activists reported an exodus of residents of Douma and showed several vehicles with women inside driving off in the dark of night.
Troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad also blasted a string of rebel strongholds in towns and suburbs outside the capital at dawn, including in Babila, Hosh al-Arab, Saqba and Zabadani, the Britain-based Observatory said.
The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network, reported that more than 100 shells fell on Zabadani, once a resort destination known for its mild weather and scenic views just northwest of the capital but now devastated by the civil war ravaging Syria.
Elsewhere in Damascus province, the town of Yabroud came under fierce artillery fire, the LCC said.
The official daily Al-Baath on Tuesday said that the “end of security operations throughout Damascus province” was approaching.
Government forces “have destroyed many weapons caches and seized large quantities of ammunition and equipment [...] which indicates that the end of security operations throughout Damascus province is approaching,” the newspaper said.
Rebels on July 18 carried out a massive bombing on a security complex in Damascus, killing Assad’s brother-in-law, the defence minister and a general.
Since then regime forces have pushed the rebels to the outskirts of the capital but have lost control of several border crossing and are battling to retake Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which has been the focal point of the conflict since mid-July.
The Observatory said that Aleppo’s northeast district of Hanano City again came under bombardment on Tuesday, a day after 19 civilians were killed in shelling there and other districts.
Fighting between troops and rebels also flared in the Arkoub, Sakhur, Sheikh Khodr and Sheikh Faris districts as well as along Suleiman al-Halabi street in the city centre, the watchdog said.
Rebels and loyalist troops on Monday clashed in the centuries-old Unesco-listed Aleppo souk, days after it was ravaged by a fire sparked by earlier fighting.
Elsewhere in the country on Tuesday, a civilian was killed during a raid by regime forces in the southern province of Daraa, while two civilians were killed in army shelling in the northwest province of Idlib, the Observatory said.
At least 30,000 people have died in the conflict since it erupted in March last year, according to figures supplied by the observatory, which collates data from a network of activists, medical and legal sources on the ground.