News / Middle East

Battles Rage in Damascus

A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on July 17, 2012 shows opponents of the regime blocking the roads with burning tires in Damascus on July 16, 2012.
A handout picture released by the Syrian opposition's Shaam News Network on July 17, 2012 shows opponents of the regime blocking the roads with burning tires in Damascus on July 16, 2012.
Edward Yeranian
Fierce clashes between rebels and government forces rocked the Syrian capital for a third day Tuesday in the heaviest period of fighting in the city since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began 16 months ago.
 
The sounds of gunfire and tank shells reverberated across large parts of Damascus, bringing the popular rebellion a notch closer to the center of power. Eyewitnesses say fighting engulfed parts of Baghdad Street, a major boulevard in the center of the city.
 
Amateur video showed plumes of black smoke rising over the city's skyline, as helicopters circled several key districts. Many residents are reported to have fled the hardest hit regions of the capital.
 
Abou Mourad, a resident of the Midan district, speaking over the sounds of gunfire, told Alhurra TV that heavy fighting was engulfing the area.
 
Rebels hail offensive 
 

The Latest Images From Syria (Click to View Photo Gallery)

x
  • This image made from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider firing his weapon during clashes with Syrian government troops in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers at the border town of Azaz, 32 kilometers north of Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image from amateur video released by the Ugarit News shows a Free Syrian Army solider driving a Syrian military tank in Aleppo, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show a helicopter gunship flying a bombing run in al-Qalmoun, Syria, July 24, 2012.
  • This image provided by Shaam News Network shows smoke rising from Juret al-Shayah in Homs, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • This citizen journalism image provided by Shaam News Network purports to show damage from heavy shelling of the al-Qadam district of Damascus, Syria, July 23, 2012.
  • A member of the Free Syrian Army points his weapon through a hole in a wall as he takes up a defense position in a house in Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 16, 2012.
  • A woman holds a child in front of their destroyed home in Tremseh, Syria about 15 kilometers northwest of Hama, July 14, 2012.
  • Free Syrian Army soldiers aim their weapons in Idlib, northern Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011 purports to show a funeral for victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012. (AP/ Hama Revolution 2011)
  • This image made from amateur video from Hama Revolution 2011purports to show families gathered around bodies of victims killed in Tremseh, Syria, July 13, 2012.
  • Members of the Free Syrian Army walk through Qusseer neighborhood in Homs, Syria, July 15, 2012.

The Latest Images From Syria (Click to View Photo Gallery)

Free Syrian Army commander Qassem Saad al-Din told the French news agency, AFP, that "the battle for Damascus has begun."
 
Syrian state TV showed a brief video of its correspondent in the Midan district, claiming that "all is quiet." 
 
The government-run TV also showed images of a burnt-out electricity sub-station, claiming that rebel forces had destroyed it.
 
Electricity Minister Imad Khamis said that sabotage of the electrical sub-station has cut power supplies in the east of the capital and some suburbs. He said the government is trying to repair and bring the station back online.
 
Khattar Abou Diab, who teaches political science at the University of Paris, says the battles taking place in Damascus are part of a government offensive against rebel positions.
 
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under AttackDamascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
x
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
Damascus, Syria Neighborhoods Under Attack
He says that rebel fighters retreated into Damascus after suffering reverses in the suburbs during a government offensive. Diab says that the Free Syrian Army retreat took government forces by surprise, but says the government has enough loyal forces to fend off the rebels.
 
Continued diplomacy
 
The battles come as faltering efforts at diplomacy continue. 
 
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said during a visit to Jordan that it is "imperative to have a Chapter 7 resolution" of the United Nations Security Council to mandate the implementation of a peace plan brokered in April by envoy Kofi Annan. That plan has failed to take hold amid continuing fighting between the government and rebels.
 
Article 41 of Chapter 7 calls for the imposition of sanctions in cases where "peace is threatened."
 
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he sees no reason why the Security Council cannot find a consensus for a resolution on the Syria crisis.  He spoke after a meeting between Mr. Annan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
 
China and Russia have vetoed previous Western-backed Security Council resolutions calling for tough action against Syria.
 
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is heading to China for talks with President Hu Jintao. The official People's Daily newspaper ran a commentary Tuesday rejecting foreign intervention in the Syrian crisis.
 
"Sovereign equality and noninterference in internal affairs is a red line that must not be crossed," the commentary said.  "A political solution is the only way out of the Syrian problem."
 
Yeranian reported from Cairo. Some information was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Mr Hasan Abdulla from: United Kingdom
July 18, 2012 2:49 AM
A political solution? Seems that the UN desires another Bosnia situation.


by: Stephen Real from: Columbia USA
July 17, 2012 10:38 AM
This is a good day to fight for the city of Damascus. The rebellion looks very strong. I think if they can keep this unrelenting pressure, in this siege on the city, it will fall.

In Response

by: Rob Swift from: Great Britain
July 17, 2012 2:19 PM
The road to Damascus gave inspiration to Saul of Tarsus. When the historical process is finished with something that thing becomes thrown to the dogs. The road to Damascus is to become a very long one. Every knee will bend.

In Response

by: Pinckney from: UK
July 17, 2012 12:49 PM
we are very happy for them... just keep them in the Middle East... we don't want them in Europe, thank you

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid