Syria Fighting Rages in Capital, Russia Pressed
Clashes in Damascus between rebels and state forces raged for a third day on Tuesday, in the fiercest fighting to hit Syria’s seat of power since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began 17 months ago.
Security forces and armored vehicles surrounded rebellious areas such as the southern district of Midan but have been unable to rout opposition fighters, activists say.
The encroachment of violence into the Syrian capital, Assad’s home and government stronghold, comes as United Nations envoy Kofi Annan is visiting Moscow to promote a peace plan for Syria.
He will meet President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, but Russia still appears resistant to Western calls for Moscow to increase pressure on Assad.
Video uploaded by opposition activists showed men in jeans hiding in sandbagged alleyways, firing rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns amid clouds of dust as gunfire crackled. Rebels burned tires and blocked some streets to ease pressure on the fighters. Black columns of smoke billowed over the capital.
Activists said artillery and rocket fire hit the opposition area of Tadamon, on the outskirts of the capital.
Residents in Midan said snipers deployed on rooftops.
“There are troops everywhere, I can hear ambulances,” said a resident near Midan. “It feels like a war in Damascus.”