By Peter Clifford © (http://www.petercliffordonline.com/syria-news-2/)
Fierce fighting in the last 3 days has led to the Assad regime regaining control of 2 districts in south-eastern Damascus and a renewed Opposition assault on nearby Sayyida Zeinab.
Supported by Hezbollah, units of the National Defence Force and Shia fighters from Iraq, Government forces yesterday retook the neighbourhoods of Al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya, which sit between the 2 main routes from the capital towards Jordan.
Fighting Closes in on the Sayyida Zeinab Shrine
Husseiniaya is also the site of a Palestinian refugee camp and there are unconfirmed reports of executions taking place as Assad’s troops combed the area.
According to activists, at least 70 people were killed in the assault, 20 of them civilians shot by Government sniper fire as they tried to flee the area across farmland. Opposition sources also claimed that 45 pro-Assad militia had died in the fighting over a 24 hour period.
Al-Thiabiya and Husseiniya had been pounded all week by shell fire and jet attack and were mainly controlled by 3 Palestine Opposition fighter groups, Ahfad al-Rasoul, Al-Umma and Aknaf al-Bayt al-Maqdesi. They had repeatedly asked for additional weapons and support from other Opposition groups in eastern Damascus, but this was not forthcoming.
In an attempt to counteract this attack, Opposition fighters launched a major assault on the adjacent Government-held Sayyida Zainab district, targetting Hezbollah and Shia militia headquarters there with mortars and automatic weapons on Thursday and this attack has continued over the last 48 hours with unconfirmed reports of as many as 27 Hezbollah fighters captured.
There are also reports that the Opposition have taken over a number of fortified buildings in the Al-Qadam neighbourhood, also in southern Damascus but slightly nearer the centre. To the west of that in Dariya, after heavy fighting on the Corniche Road, 25 Syrian Army soldiers were reported killed, including 2 officers, and equipment seized, HERE:
2 mortar shells fired by the Opposition this morning, Saturday, are reported to have landed in Abu Rummaneh in central Damascus, according to Government sources killing a 8 year old girl and wounding 11 others near the Dar Al-Salam School . There is footage of the aftermath from Syrian state TV, HERE:
North of the capital, in the Damascus countryside, fighting is once again reported around the Christian town of Maloula.
FORMER INMATE DESCRIBES MURDEROUS CONDITIONS IN ALEPPO PRISON, WHILE HOMS REFINERY DESTROYED BY OPPOSITION ROCKETS:
In Deir El-Zour in the district of Harabish a number of regime soldiers from the 119th Brigade are reported to have defected, while in Homs the Opposition neighbourhood of Al-Wa’ar has once again come under heavy shelling and bombing this week, the aftermath seen HERE:
Homs Refinery Burning on Wednesday Night
Opposition fighters also attacked the oil refinery in Homs with Grad type missiles, setting most of the oil storage tanks on fire and destroying millions of dollars worth of fuel. The refinery was already down to 10% of its normal capacity. The fires continued to burn all day Thursday sending black smoke pouring into the atmosphere, HERE:
In Aleppo province, Government forces took over Abu Jarayn to the east of Safira after 5 days of fighting despite attempts by Opposition fighters to destroy an Assad convoy on route to the town, HERE:
However, in Aleppo city itself, Opposition fighters continue to make progress taking over more areas in western Aleppo, the last remaining Government foothold in Syria’s largest city, HERE:
A former inmate of Aleppo Central Prison has described the terrible conditions there with a Government tank turning its gun on prisoners’ dormitories in retaliation for Opposition attacks and hundreds buried in the prison courtyard. Recommended viewing, with English sub-titles:
The BBC also has an interesting report from a young Kurd who defected from the Syrian Air Force and is now in the Domiz refugee camp in Iraq. He describes the brutality of the Assad regime and Alawites in particular, “worse than Al-Qaeda”, HERE:
In Idlib province, on the eastern side of Ma’arat Al-Numan, Opposition fighters have captured the Jura district, giving them a better foothold to continue attacking the Government base at Wadi Deif just a bit further to the west.
Opposition fighters also destroyed a T-62 tank near Wadi Deif and captured a T-72 tank at Khan Shaikhoun.
In Deraa province where heavy fighting continues, the Opposition gained a good stock of useful equipment, including night vision goggles, from their take over of the Hajana base earlier this week (Scroll down, see below), HERE:
JIHADISTS CONTINUE TO RUIN REPUTATION OF OPPOSITION AS HRW LEVELS ACCUSATIONS AGAINST THEM OF ATTROCITIES IN LATAKIA:
Internationally, the UN Security Council has approved the setting up of a joint UN/ Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) team to progress the removal and destruction of chemical weapons and their production equipment in Syria.
Three sites have been visited and the number of inspectors and support staff increased to 60. Although this does not include its recent work in Syria, the OPCW was recognised in Stockholm on Friday with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2013.
OPCW has been operating since 1997, carrying out 5,286 inspections in 86 countries and says that 81.71% of the world’s declared chemical weapons stockpile has been destroyed. The BBC has a video report, HERE:
Site of an Alawite Village Mass Grave in Latakia