By Peter Clifford
“I look forward to your reports like a child waiting for Xmas” – AD
Opposition fighters are currently defending against an all out assault on multiple suburbs around Damascus as the Assad regime tries to eliminate them from the capital’s Sunni strongholds.
Fierce battles are raging in the districts of Qaboun, Barzeh, Jobar, Al-Hajar Al-Aswad, Daraya and Yarmouk, with activists reporting that conditions are dire following the Syrian Army shell and rocket barages that preceded the ground attacks.
FSA Fighters on the Offensive
The neighbourhoods lie in the northern, eastern and southern outskirts of the capital, but observers believe that even if Assad won back these areas he would not have the man power to hold them.
From the Opposition side, Qaboun and Barzeh in particular are crucial to any Free Syrian Army led invasion of central Damascus.
A Government tank convoy was seen firing in all directions as it travelled on the highway along the edge of the Jobar and Qaboun neighbourhoods, HERE:
However, this does not stop Opposition fighters equipped with anti-tank missiles from striking back, even at tanks moving at speed, as can be seen HERE:
This video shows heavy fighting in Jobar yesterday, HERE:
In southern Damascus, where there is a major battle ongoing between Sunni Islamists and Shia fighters from Hezbollah and Iraq around the Sayyed Zanaib shrine, these pro-Assad combattants were seen making a run for it, one of them being shot in the leg, HERE:
Opposition fighters are also reported to have shot down another military aircraft in the Damascus countryside of Eastern Ghouta and the pilot was filmed parachuting to the ground, HERE:
BELIEVING THAT “ATTACK IS THE BEST FORM OF DEFENCE” OPPOSITION FIGHTERS STAND UP TO ASSAD ASSAULT ON ALEPPO:
In Aleppo, the Opposition has decided, after Qusair, that “attack is the best form of defence”, dealing with a predicted assault by Government forces on their positions in the city by launching an offensive of their own.
So far this seems to be succeeding with Opposition gains apparent in western districts of the city. Violent clashes are also reported around the Palace of Justice to the east of the Citadel and Opposition fighters are very near to the Military Research Centre, firing on the building and trying to surround Government positions in Hoihna.
Opposition fighters have also taken parts of the Suleiman al-Halabi district and the secured electricity substation, (Arabic only) HERE: Unconfirmed reports say that a convoy of Red Crescent vehicles trying to reach the isolated and Opposition besieged Aleppo Central Prison, was fired upon by Assad troops.
In the Aleppo countryside the major Opposition attack on the Mennegh airbase continues using Chinese HJ-8 anti-tank missiles: HERE: , a Russian made 9K113 Konkurs to hit a tank inside the base, HERE: and a homemade, but impressive, “volcano mortar cannon”, HERE:
The recent delivery of new weapons, particularly anti-tank missiles, seems to be making a difference to the FSA and their allies. In the last 36 hours no less than 10 regime tanks have been reported as “destroyed” and a number of others have been captured.
This morning, Tuesday, there is an unconfirmed report that 50 Assad soldiers have defected in the Aleppo countryside. Further details awaited.
This map published yesterday, courtesy of Cedric Labrousse, shows the current position of the Opposition forces (Green) and Government forces (Red) in Aleppo and the surrounding area. Note the complete isolation of the Al-Kindl prison hospital and the Aleppo Central Prison to the north-east. You can see a larger version of the map, HERE:
Aleppo Conflict Map 24.6.13
FSA PREPARE ALL OUT ASSAULT ON IDLIB CITY, WHILE OPPOSITION FIGHTERS & CIVILIANS REMAIN UNDER PRESSURE IN HOMS:
In Idlib province, violent clashes are reported around the Wadi Daif military base which has been under siege for months by Opposition forces. Opposition fighters are also reported to have captured another Government checkpoint on the road from Idlib to Latakia, seizing tanks, weapons and ammunition, HERE:
It is also believed that the Opposition are preparing a major attack on the Government positions still in Idlib city in hopes of capturing it in its entirety. Al Jazeera has a video report, HERE:
In Deraa, the provincial capital in the south, Government forces are reported to have withdrawn from around the National Hospital after losing a number of tanks and in Raqqah province to the north-east of the country, Opposition fighters shelled a convoy of pick-ups trying to escape the besieged Syrian Army base of Brigade 93.
In Homs province, where the a pro-Assad force of around 800 attempted to storm the Opposition held town of Al-Qariytain, the FSA managed to destroy 2 tanks and kill a number of attacking soldiers, despite jet and helicopter strikes on the city and its outskirts.
Read this moving account of life inside the destroyed districts of Homs city, where a 6 storey building owner has fled the country leaving it to refugees and those remaining struggle every day to find food and to set up some sort of education system for their displaced children. HERE:
Car Destroyed in Sectarian Fighting in Lebanon
On the international front, sectarian clashes have spread to Lebanon, where fighting between the Lebanese Army and followers of the Sunni cleric Ahmed Assir led to the deaths of 47 including 16 soldiers in the southern Lebanese town of Sidon.
5 Shi’ites in Egypt were also killed near Cairo after being set upon by an angry mob of Sunnis. The Egyptian Government has issued arrest warrants for the murderers.
Hopes for an international “peace conference” on Syria to be held in July, seem to be fading fast as the conflict escalates militarily and no solution to preconditions from both sides is found.
In Qatar the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, aged 61, has surprisingly handed power to his 33 year old son, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, in order to give the “younger generation a chance”.
Sheikh Hamad took over from his father in a bloodless coup in 1995 but has since led Qatar to extraordinary political influence and the highest per capita of any nation in the world.
No change is expected in the Gulf state’s support for the Opposition fighters in Syria. The BBC has a video report, HERE:
(Source: http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2 / 25.06.2013)