Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run? (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Iraq's Christians - Nowhere to Run?

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Towards a "Third Intifada"?

Read more

FOCUS

What solutions for California's overcrowded prisons?

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Gaza conflict: Palestinians mark sombre Eid

Read more

WEB NEWS

Celebrities in the Israel-Gaza crossfire

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Israeli strike takes out Gaza power station

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French newspaper apologises for Sarkozy story

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Last-ditch talks aim to avert Argentina default

Read more

  • Deadly strike hits Gaza market despite four-hour 'truce'

    Read more

  • Fourth female suicide bomber targets Nigerian city

    Read more

  • Russia defiant as US, EU unveil 'phase three' sanctions

    Read more

  • US rebounds to 4% growth in second quarter

    Read more

  • Suspect in Jewish Museum attack charged with 'terrorist' murder

    Read more

  • Women should not laugh in public, Turkey's deputy PM says

    Read more

  • Video: Coping with rocket attacks in Israel’s Sderot

    Read more

  • Rats on the rampage at Louvre museum gardens

    Read more

  • France evacuates nationals, closes embassy in Libya

    Read more

  • Dozens killed in stampede at Guinea rap concert

    Read more

  • 'Compelling' signs Kosovo leaders trafficked organs, prosecutor says

    Read more

  • Graphic: Ebola spreads across West Africa

    Read more

  • Video: How tourism is helping Rwanda’s gorillas, ex-poachers

    Read more

  • Islamists seize key Benghazi army base as fire rages on

    Read more

  • In pictures: ن - a sign of support for Iraq’s persecuted Christians

    Read more

Middle east

Fierce clashes reported in Syrian capital Damascus

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-19

Heavy fighting between the rebel Free Syrian Army and forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad raged in the Syrian capital of Damascus Monday, one day after a car bomb ripped through a residential area of Syria's second city, Aleppo.

AP - Syrian security forces clashed Monday with gunmen in an upscale neighborhood of the capital Damascus that is home to embassies and senior officials in one of the worst confrontations in the tightly-controlled city center in the country’s yearlong uprising.

The pro-government Ikhbariyah TV station said the clash in the western Mazzeh district left three “terrorists” and a member of the security forces dead. It said one of the attackers was captured and three security troops were wounded.

Ikhbariyah said the attackers were hiding out in an apartment building before the firefight.

A resident of the western Mazzeh district said automatic rifles and machineguns were used in the two-hour clash that ended at about 4 a.m. local time. “We also heard three strong explosions,” said the man who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal.

He added that the clash was close to the Swiss embassy and the home of Maj. Gen. Assef Shawkat, the deputy chief of staff for security affairs who is married to President Bashar Assad’s sister, Bushra.

Armed rebels are active in Damascus’ suburbs and satellite towns but rarely venture into the heart of the capital where Assad’s troops are deployed in force.

Damascus has been largely free of the daily shootings and deaths reported across the country since the uprising against Assad began in March last year. But the capital has witnessed several major bomb attacks targeting security facilities, most recently on Saturday. The government blames “terrorists” for the bombings but the opposition says that the regime itself may be carrying them out to discredit the uprising.

The new fighting shows that rebels can still strike in the heart of the capital despite successful government offensive in the past weeks in the suburbs of Damascus, in the central city of Homs and the northern region of Idlib.

Syrian authorities claim the opposition is made up of “terrorist” groups carrying out a foreign conspiracy.

An activist in the capital said the Monday morning clashes occurred near the Political Security Directorate building. He said the clashes were followed with raids by security forces who were searching for the attackers.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which has a network of activists throughout Syria, said 18 of Assad’s troops were wounded in the clashes. It described the clashes “as the most violent of its kind and closest to security centers in Damascus since the revolution began.”

The rebel Free Syrian Army, which includes thousands of army defectors, have claimed responsibility in the past for attacks against regime forces.

The group’s leader, Col. Riad al-Asaad, refused to comment on the fighting in Damascus when contacted by The Associated Press by telephone. “This is a sensitive military matter that we cannot comment about,” he said from Turkey.

On Saturday, three suicide bombings in Damascus killed 27 people. Two of them also targeted government security buildings.

On Sunday, an explosion killed two and wounded 30 in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria’s largest.
 

Date created : 2012-03-19

  • SYRIA

    Car bomb explodes in Syrian city of Aleppo

    Read more

  • SYRIA

    Syria blames bomb attacks on ‘foreign powers’

    Read more

  • SYRIA - UN

    Mission headed to Syria to push peace proposals, Annan says

    Read more

COMMENT(S)