05/23/2013 - #Syria - Damascus - New alleged chemical attack on Douma
05/17/2013 - #Syria - Yabroud, Damascus - Extraordinary footage of 6 missiles shot by regime jet #aviation
Syrian troops have taken control of a town near the main road linking the capital, Damascus, with Jordan, an advance in the regime’s campaign to drive rebels from the south, an activist group has said.
Rebels seeking to topple President Bashar al-Assad are trying to carve a pathway from the Jordanian border through the southern province of Deraa in what is seen as their best chance of capturing Damascus.
A few weeks ago they scored significant gains but suffered setbacks after the regime launched a counteroffensive.
In recent days, regime troops and rebel fighters have battled over Khirbet Ghazaleh. Regime forces retook the town near the Damascus-Jordan road on Sunday and rebels withdrew from the area, said Rami Abdul-Rahman, the head of the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Troops reopened the road, restoring the supply line between Damascus and Deraa city, the contested provincial capital, he said. Regime forces were carrying out raids and searching homes in Khirbet Ghazaleh on Monday.
Damascus, still overwhelmingly under regime control, is the ultimate prize in a largely deadlocked civil war. Rebels control large parts of the countryside in northern Syria, but those areas are further away from the capital than the Jordanian border.
Arab officials and western military experts have said Middle Eastern powers opposed to Assad have stepped up weapons supplies to Syrian rebels, with Jordan opening up as a new route.
The uprising against Assad erupted in March 2011 and escalated into a civil war. Over the weekend, the Observatory issued an estimated death toll of more than 80,000, with almost half of them civilians. In February, the UN said at least 70,000 Syrians had been killed.
Western leaders face growing pressure to find a way to end the conflict – because of the rising death toll and fears that neighbouring Israel or Turkey could inadvertently get pulled deeper into it.
Turkey has blamed the Assad regime for twin car bombs on Saturday that killed 46 people and wounded scores in a border town that serves as a hub for Syrian refugees and rebels.
Turkey said it would not be dragged into the quagmire but tensions between the former allies run high.
This month Israel launched back-to-back air strikes in Syria against what it said were shipments of advanced Iranian missiles. Israeli officials signalled there would be more attacks unless its neighbour refrained from trying to deliver such “game-changing” missiles to its ally Hezbollah, an anti-Israel militia in Lebanon.
For now, the west is placing its hopes on a diplomatic plan that previously ran aground but now appears to have stronger Russian backing.
Last week the US and Russia agreed to revive the idea of negotiations between Syria’s political opposition and members of the regime on a transitional government, accompanied by an open-ended ceasefire.
05/13/2013 - Guardian
Syria will “respond immediately” to any new Israeli attack against its territory, its deputy foreign minister told AFP on Thursday, after two reported Israeli strikes on military targets last week.
“The instruction has been made to respond immediately to any new Israeli attack without [additional] instruction from any higher leadership, and our retaliation will be strong and will be painful against Israel,” Faisal Muqdad said.
He spoke in an interview with AFP in the Syrian capital.
Senior Israeli sources said the strikes targeted weapons bound for the powerful Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, a close ally of Damascus.
Muqdad denied that.
“They absolutely did not achieve their objective and they lied when they said they are targeting Hezbollah,” he said.
There is “no way Syria will allow this to happen again,” he added.
Israel reportedly targeted military sites near the capital Damascus early on Friday morning and again early on Sunday morning, with at least 42 soldiers reported dead in the second strike.
The Jewish state has repeatedly warned it will intervene to prevent the transfer of advanced weaponry to Hezbollah, with which it fought the devastating 2006 Summer War.
The strikes last week were the third time Israel is thought to have hit sites inside Syria since the beginning of an uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in March 2011. That first was in January of this year.
The uprising, which began with peaceful protests, has devolved into a bloody conflict that has killed more than 70,000 people, according to the UN, and displaced millions of Syrians.
AFP - 05/09/2013
Syrian activists on Monday voiced fear that a week of clashes in Jdaidet Artouz and Jdaidet al-Fadel outside Damascus might have left hundreds dead, the Associated Press reported.
The news agency cited the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights as saying the toll could be as high as 250.
“Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Observatory, said the group has documented 80 names of those killed but fears a much higher toll.”
Meanwhile, the Local Coordination Committees “said the death toll was 483 and that most of the victims were killed in Jdaidet Artouz.”
As activists raised alarm over the humanitarian situation in the Damascus suburbs, the Syrian regime’s state press agency SANA said that government soldiers “inflicted heavy losses” on rebels in the areas.
Syrian troops stormed Jdaidet al-Fadl on Sunday amid reports of the discovery of scores of bodies.
Jdaidet al-Fadl is located in an area southwest of Damascus that is home to several communities, including Sunnis, Druze and Christians.
Since last year, the army has tried to root out rebels positioned southwest and east of Damascus, in a bid to secure the capital.
04/22/2013 - NOW
Two mortars were fired at a military headquarters in the Syrian capital on Thursday, state television reported, shortly after a powerful car bomb exploded near the Baath party headquarters.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the incident, saying that two mortars landed at the General Staff building in central Damascus but gave no information on casualties.
Rebels on Tuesday shelled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s Tishreen palace complex, a Syrian official told AP on condition of anonymity.
“The official said the rounds struck Tuesday near the southern wall of the Tishreen palace, in the capital’s northwestern Muhajireen district, but caused only material damages,” the report said.
AP also said that “no casualties were reported” and added that it was unknown whether Assad was in the complex.