Syria

Battles in Damascus centre


Published

For the third day running there have been battles between rebels and government forces in the centre of the capital Damascus.

The battles have intensified and crept closer to the presidential compound and parliament whilst large parts of the city have emptied of civilians as the fighting intensifies. Although the United Nations Special Envoy Kofi Annan has visited Moscow in an effort to persuade the Russian Federation to change their position, the diplomat effort appears to have stalled completely.

The United Nations Security Council will vote today to decide if the 300 strong monitor mission in Syria will stay or be withdrawn. With Russia putting one resolution and a British backed resolution seeking a different approach the likelihood is that the monitors will be withdrawn as the political stalemate continues.

Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) has maintained a degree of calm reporting throughout the protests so far, but even they have been forced to report on much wider fighting. In one news release they report on fighting in Damascus in the neighbourhoods of Midan, Barzeh, Maysar, Bab Serijeh and Naher Aisha. They report of clashes in Yabroud just north of Damascus as well as continued fighting in Darra in the south of the country, Aleppo in the north west and Hama near Homs in central western Syria.

The number of defections has intensified with the BBC reporting that as many as 16 Generals and senior army commanders having defected with hundreds of fighting troops. Israeli intelligence is reported in the New York Times as saying that the Syrian government has withdrawn troops from the Golan Heights on the border with Israel, suggesting that all of their armed forces are now committed in the internal conflict.

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