Syrian capital sees heaviest clashes in weeks, frightened residents hide in their homes

The Associated Press reports: Syrian rebels and regime forces fought their most intense clashes in weeks inside the heavily guarded capital of Damascus on Wednesday, activists said, with the sounds of shell blasts echoing through the downtown area and keeping many children home from school while residents hid in their houses.

The opposition fighters blasted army checkpoints with rifles and anti-aircraft guns while government forces shelled the eastern and southern suburbs, trying to repel a new insurgent effort to push the civil war into the heart of the capital, the anti-regime activists said.

Although bordered by rebellious suburbs that have seen fierce fighting, widespread clashes have remained mostly on the capital’s edges, saving it from the destruction that has ravaged other major cities such as Aleppo and Homs.

The military of President Bashar has focused on securing the capital, and the dozens of rebels groups that have established footholds in Damascus suburbs have failed to form a united front, each fighting for its own area with little or no coordination with others. [Continue reading…]

Reuters adds: Syrian government jets bombarded the Damascus ring road on Thursday in a bid to halt a rebel advance which threatens President Bashar al-Assad’s hold on the capital, insurgent commanders and opposition activists said.

Warplanes fired rockets at southern parts of the route where rebels have spent the past 36 hours overrunning army positions and road blocks encircling the heart of the city, the site of key state security and intelligence installations.

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