by Paula Astatih
The scene on the ground in Syria on Saturday was no different than the previous few days, in spite of the diplomatic and political efforts exerted in Geneva. Syrian opposition Local Coordination Committees [LCC] reported the deaths of around 100 people yesterday, as a result of the extensive security crackdown launched by Syrian security forces which led, according to activists, to the death of more than 800 people across Syria over the past 8 days.
Whilst the regime’s military operations yesterday focused on Aleppo, Rif Dimashq, Hama and Daraa, activists spoke of the Free Syrian Army’s [FSA] success in destroying a military air base in Aleppo Governorate on Saturday morning. Dissident elements undertook the mission in rural Aleppo, targeting a military air base used by the regime’s forces to bombard rural areas and villages. Activists from the region said that smoke and flames could be seen rising from the military headquarters.
Simultaneously, FSA sources in Homs claimed that most of the wounded that were waiting to be evacuated from the city had died after the both the Red Cross and the Red Crescent failed to respond. In a telephone interview with Asharq al-Awsat, the sources placed the blame entirely upon the al-Assad regime.
Military sources also informed Asharq Al-Awsat that the death toll of the Syrian army had risen significantly over the last few days compared to the death toll of the FSA. The source added: “we are currently witnessing an increase in the number of deaths of young University students who reject the regime”.
Syrian political activists posted images on the internet showing that the Khaled ibn al-Walid mosque - in the al-Khalidiya neighborhood in central Homs - had been subjected to mortar fire. Activists also spoke of clashes between the FSA and the regime’s forces, who have continued to bomb the Homs districts of al-Khalidiya, al-Hamidiya, Jouret Shiah and al-Qusur.
For its part, the Syrian Revolution General Commission reported heavy and sustained bombardment targeting most of the districts of Homs, compounded by the crippling siege of thousands of residents and a severe shortage of medical staff, equipment and water.
Whilst the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights revealed that severe explosions had rocked several parts of Syria on Saturday morning, firstly in the Damascene neighborhood of al-Qaboun and al-Jamilia district near the Aleppo-Directorate, in addition to the explosion of an oil pipeline located near the town of Alkorah in Deir Al-Zour.
Activists also claimed that the regime’s forces stormed the district of al-Hajar al-Aswad in the capital and initiated a campaign of raids. At the same time Syrian television reported that three had been injured as a result of the explosions that rocked the capital, Damascus.
Meanwhile, LCCs stated that the regime’s army is continuing is shelling of rural areas north of Aleppo, and that the town of Mayer has been exposed to a violent bombardment amidst the interruption of telephone and internet communications, and electricity shortages. Meanwhile, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that an explosion had occurred in al-Jamilia district near the Aleppo-Directorate, which did not result in any deaths, but the organization revealed that one person had died in Mayer and another in Atareb as a result of the regime’s shelling.
The Syrian Revolution General Commission said that clashes are still ongoing in Deir Al-Zour, a town which is considered outside the control of the Syrian authorities, and these clashes have so far resulted in the death of one military dissident and a doctor. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported the explosion of an oil pipeline near the town Alkorah in Deir al-Zour, a region also beyond the control of the regime’s forces.
In contrast, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported that “the relevant authorities in Deir al-Zour clashed with terrorists in the districts of al-Hamidiya and al-Aradi, killing dozens of them and seizing their weapons supplies”.
In Daraa, the regime’s forces have continued their security crackdown, raids, arrests and intensive security deployment, supported by tanks. Activists said that the regime’s forces continued to shell Daraa al-Balad yesterday morning and launched a campaign of raids and arrests in the district.
Security forces backed by armored vehicles and anti-aircraft machine guns stormed the district of Daraa al-Mahata, amidst heavy gunfire whilst snipers were stationed at checkpoints and security outposts surrounding the area of al-Kashaf, according to the activists.
Likewise, violent clashes are taking place at the entrance to the town of Abtaa, between fighters from the rebel battalions and government forces, who are reportedly utilizing helicopters, whilst the town of Khirbet Ghazaleh had also been under fire from helicopter gunships.Paula Astatih
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