60 troops die as rebels press Damascus offensive
Posted on July 19, 2012, Thursday
DAMASCUS: More than 60 soldiers were yesterday reported killed as rebels pressed their offensive to capture Damascus, upping the stakes ahead of a Security Council vote on a resolution threatening sanctions on Syria.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights watchdog said at least 20 government soldiers died on Tuesday in Damascus clashes with the rebel Free Syrian Army (FSA) and that between 40 and 50 were killed the
Columns of black smoke rose over the capital yesterday as the Local Coordination Committees, which organises anti-regime protests on the ground, reporting fighting in several districts.
The Qaboon neighbourhood was bombarded during the night and pounded again yesterday morning, the LCC said, as was Barzeh neighbourhood, and sustained gunfire was heard.
It also said there was less traffic than normal in the city where fighting has raged since Sunday, with the rebels announcing a full-scale offensive dubbed “the Damascus volcano and earthquakes of Syria.”
Regime forces and the FSA – defected soldiers and civilians who have taken up arms – clashed at dawn in the Al-Midan and Zahira districts of Damascus as well as at Assali south of the city, the LCC said.
Rebel forces on Tuesday said the battle to “liberate” Damascus had begun, as heavy fighting raged across the city with the regime using helicopter gunships in the capital for the first time.
As the fighting inched closer to the regime’s nerve centre, FSA spokesman Colonel Kassem Saadeddine said “victory is nigh” and the struggle would go on until the city was conquered.
“We have transferred the battle from Damascus province to the capital. We have a clear plan to control the whole of Damascus. We only have light weapons, but it’s enough.”
“Expect surprises,” Saadeddine added. — AFP