Coming up

Don't miss




Is Carla Bruni against a political comeback for Sarkozy?

Read more


Clone of Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part Two)

Read more


Pakistan Protests: Democracy put the test (Part One)

Read more


The French Maestro of Soul

Read more


US tobacco giants want lion's share of e-cigarette business

Read more


Bold and bonkers: Kate Bush is back on stage

Read more


Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more


'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more


French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

  • UN backs inquiry of IS group’s alleged crimes in Iraq

    Read more

  • French education ministry picture sparks racist abuse

    Read more

  • US military targets al Shabaab Islamists in Somalia

    Read more

  • Obama calls for higher wages amid 'revving' US economy

    Read more

  • Video: Ukraine’s children return to school as fighting rages on

    Read more

  • Americans detained in North Korea call for US help

    Read more

  • US urges Israel to reverse West Bank land seizure

    Read more

  • Lesotho PM calls for regional peacekeeping force after ‘coup’

    Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Death toll rises in Paris apartment building blast

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Amerli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • French police arrest hungry hedgehog hunters

    Read more

  • Tripoli under control of militias, says government

    Read more

  • Monaco’s Falcao set for Man Utd loan on transfer deadline day

    Read more

  • Spain orders custody for parents of ill British boy

    Read more

Middle east

Fierce fighting in Damascus rages for second day

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-07-16

The Free Syrian Army fought government troops in Damascus for a second day Monday in the fiercest fighting yet seen in the capital, a day after the International Committee of the Red Cross said Syria had entered a state of all-out civil war.

AFP - Troops fought fierce battles with rebels in Damascus on Monday for a second straight day as Russia dismissed as "blackmail" Western pressure to back a UN Security Council resolution against Syria.

The International Committee of the Red Cross said meanwhile that Syria is in a state of all-out civil war and that all sides must respect humanitarian law or risk facing war crimes prosecutions.

"Each time there is fighting we can see conditions that can be defined as a non-international armed conflict," ICRC spokesman Alexis Heeb told AFP, adding "international humanitarian law applies" in such circumstances.

But the violence raged on Monday, with troops resuming shelling of the southern Damascus neighbourhood of Tadamon and soldiers and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) clashing in two other districts, activists said.

AP - Syria’s 16-month bloodbath crossed an important symbolic threshold Sunday as the international Red Cross formally declared the conflict a civil war, a status with implications for potential war crimes prosecutions.

The Red Cross statement came as United Nations observers gathered new details on what happened in a village where dozens were reported killed in a regime assault. After a second visit to Tremseh on Sunday, the team said Syrian troops went door-to-door in the small farming community, checking residents’ IDs and then killing some and taking others away.

They said the clashes that erupted on the capital's outskirts on Sunday is the worst since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad's autocratic regime broke out in March 2011.

"Mortar shelling resumed in the early morning," targeting Tadamon, as troops and rebels fought fiercely in Kfar Sousa in the west and Jobar in the east, said the Local Coordination Committees activist network.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported "dawn battles on the road south of Kfar Sousa, between rebel fighters and soldiers who were in a convoy passing through the area."

"(It has) never been this intense," the Observatory's Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP.

A resident of nearby Jaramana said the area had been turned into a "war zone," keeping him awake all night. Activists reported "tanks entering Tadamon and ensuing clashes."

The pro-government Al-Watan newspaper said the army was battling "terrorist groups" who had taken up positions in outer neighbourhoods intending to launch "the great Damascus battle."

Tadamon, Kfar Sousa and Jobar are centres of anti-regime dissent which Abdel Rahman said the army was trying to reclaim but has so far failed to do as FSA fighters had locked them down.

The opposition Syrian National Council accused the regime of transforming Damascus into "battlefields" and hailed the insurgents.

"The revolution is spreading and has tightened the noose around the regime in zones where it thought it was beyond the anger of the people," said SNC spokesman Georges Sabra.

The latest violence comes as the diplomatic pressure builds ahead of a key Security Council vote on Friday to decide if a 300-strong UN observer mission to Syria will be renewed.

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria, or UNSMIS, is tasked with overseeing the implementation of a six-point peace plan brokered by envoy Kofi Annan which has been flouted daily since mid-April when it went into effect.

'Assad won't quit'

Speaking ahead of talks with Annan, the UN-Arab League envoy, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West of trying to "blackmail" Moscow to get its backing for possible sanctions against Syria.

"To our great regret, we are witnessing elements of blackmail," said Lavrov, adding it was "unrealistic" for Moscow to back calls for Assad to step down as the population supports him.

"It is simply unrealistic... he will not leave power. And this is not because we are protecting him but because there is a very significant part of the Syrian population behind him," Lavrov told reporters.

Annan is on his way to Moscow for talks with Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin while UN chief Ban Ki-moon is due in Beijing where he will meet President Jintao on a mission Tuesday to get support for tougher action on Syria.

Moscow and Beijing have twice blocked resolutions against Syria at the Security Council which is divided over Western calls to pile new sanctions on Damascus.

"So divided that maybe Annan and Ban now have the most influence over Russia and China to get anything done," a senior UN council diplomat said.

Britain, the United States, France, Germany and Portugal want a resolution passed this week that would threaten sanctions if Assad does not pull back his main weapons.

The diplomatic moves come after Syria denied its troops carried out a massacre in the central village of Treimsa, where activists said dozens of people were slaughtered Thursday by troops and pro-regime militia.

"What happened was not a massacre... It was a clash between regular forces and armed groups who do not believe in a peaceful solution," foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said, insisting only five buildings were targeted.

UN observers went into Treisma on Sunday to probe the reported killings and "observed over 50 houses that were burned and/or destroyed," said UNSMIS spokeswoman Sausan Ghosheh.

"Pools of blood and brain matter were observed in a number of homes," she said, adding that the attack appears targeted at army defectors and activists."

"The number of casualties is still unclear."

Activists said more than 150 people were massacred in the village. If that number is confirmed, it would make it one of the bloodiest episodes of the uprising.

On Sunday, violence across Syria killed 105 people, the Observatory said, adding to its toll of more than 17,000 people killed in the country since the uprising began.


Date created : 2012-07-15


    Syria denies UN claims of massacre in Tremseh

    Read more