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Clashes between rebel and regime forces rock Damascus

By Paul Iddon     Jul 17, 2012 in Politics
Reports indicate that violence across the Syrian capital Damascus is intensifying as Syrian rebels announce they are executing a "Damascus volcano" offensive against the Syrian regime.
Reports from AFP, BBC News and The Telegraph state that this is the third day of intense fighting in the city. The Free Syrian Army (FSA) has stated it has launched this operation into the capital "in response to massacres and barbaric crimes," which have been committed by the Syrian regime.
Shooting has been reported in Baghdad street along with tank attacks in the city's south-western suburb of Midan along with attacks by regime helicopters in the north, north-eastern part of the Syrian capital.
This is the first time fighting has reached the centre of the Syrian capital, which is the regime's central stronghold. The military deployment in the city is also the largest in the uprising so far. The former Syrian ambassador to Iraq has warned that Assad may resort to the use of chemical weapons since he is at the moment "a wounded wolf and cornered."
Violence is spreading across the country as the Syrian rebels, now clearly better equipped and more organized, are lashing out at the army and at the pro-Assad militias.
The FSA has also stated it is beginning to carry out "attacks on all security stations and branches in the cities and the countryside, to enter into fierce clashes and to call on them [the regime forces] to surrender." They have also called for the cutting off of main roads "from Alleppo to Derra and from Deir Ezzor to Lattakia, to cut off and seize the supply lines."
Rami Abdel Rahman the head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has said that "when there is fighting in the capital for several hours, even days, and troops are unable to control the situation, that proves the regime's weakness."
A Syrian activist going by the name of Abu Musab has called these clashes "a turning point." His statement signals that many in Syria believe these developments in Damascus are a defining moment in the struggle between the regime and the rebels.
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