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Syria army steps up operations in Aleppo, Damascus

PTI Damascus | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on October 03, 2012

Syria’s army rained shells on rebel bastions in and around Damascus and sent extra troops to second city Aleppo, as a watchdog said the death toll from 18 months of violence now topped 31,000.

The fresh offensive yesterday came hours after UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Damascus to show compassion to its people and the UN’s Syria envoy prepared to return to the region to try to revive mediation efforts.

Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem insisted on Monday that a political solution was still possible if the West and Gulf States halted support for the rebels.

A bombardment by the army of the rebel-held Harasta district in the eastern suburbs of the capital killed at least 11 people, two of them women, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

At least five civilians were killed in shelling in the city of Douma, northeast of Damascus, the Britain-based watchdog said.

The army also bombarded a string of other towns outside Damascus, the Observatory said.

Activist network the Local Coordination Committees said more than 100 shells fell on Zabadani. Once a resort destination known for its mild weather and scenic views, it has been devastated by the civil war ravaging Syria.

The official daily Al-Baath yesterday said Government forces had “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.”

On July 18, rebels carried out a massive bombing on a complex in Damascus, killing four security chiefs, including Assad’s brother-in-law and the defence minister.

Regime forces have since pushed the rebels to the outskirts of the capital. But they have lost control of several border crossings and are battling to retake Syria’s second city of Aleppo, which has been the focal point of the conflict since mid-July.

Several districts of Aleppo were bombed yesterday, the Observatory said, a day after 22 civilians died in the violence ravaging the city of 1.7 million people.

Pro-regime daily Al-Watan yesterday said that extra troops were being sent to Aleppo.

“New reinforcements have arrived to support the army... and the armed men (rebels) are now fatigued and have begun to flee to their villages and towns in the province of Aleppo and elsewhere,” it said.

Fighting at the weekend rocked the city’s centuries-old UNESCO-listed souk and sparked a fire that damaged hundreds of shops.

Nationwide, at least 104 people were killed in violence on Tuesday — 57 civilians, 26 soldiers and 21 rebels, the Observatory said.

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Published on October 03, 2012
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