BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syria acknowledged for the first time on Monday that it had chemical and biological weapons, saying they could be used if the country faced foreign intervention.
International pressure on President Bashar al-Assad has escalated dramatically in the last week with a rebel offensive in the two biggest cities and a devastating bomb attack which killed four members of his inner circle in Damascus.
AMMAN/BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels kept up pressure on President Bashar al-Assad following the assassination of three top lieutenants, fighting loyalist troops within sight of the presidential palace and near government headquarters, residents said on Thursday.
An official source said the president, who has made no statement or public appearance since Wednesday’s stunning bomb attack on a crisis meeting of defense and security chiefs, was still commanding operations from his Damascus office.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – The world saw only a handful of pictures of Assef Shawkat. Few knew what he really did, or what power he wielded.
But any Syrian would have told you that President Bashar al-Assad’s 62-year-old brother-in-law, reported to have been killed in a suicide attack in Damascus on Wednesday, was one of the pillars of Assad family rule.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels said they shot down an army helicopter on Tuesday as they battled government forces backed by air power and artillery in the fiercest fighting to hit Damascus since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted last year.
Rebel officers said thousands of fighters had converged on the capital, a government stronghold during 16 months of turmoil, to bring the battle from Syria’s turbulent provinces into Assad’s power centre.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian rebels and government troops clashed in central Damascus for a third day in the fiercest fighting inside the capital since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted last year, but neither side appeared able to deliver a decisive blow.
Government troops also used helicopter gunships and artillery to target rebel fighters in the northern and southern outskirts and rebels said they had killed 70 security forces and pro-Assad militiamen known as shabbiha over the past 24 hours.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian army armoured vehicles have clashed with rebels in Damascus in what residents said was the heaviest fighting in the capital since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began 17 months ago.
The spread of hostilities into the Syrian capital comes as United Nations envoy Kofi Annan is visiting Moscow to promote a peace plan for Syria. On Tuesday, he will meet president Vladimir Putin, who has resisted Western calls to increase pressure on Assad.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Syrian government forces encircled rebel fighters in Damascus on Monday, waging a second day of fighting that residents described as the worst to hit the capital since the 17-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began.
Armored vehicles rolled into the southern district of Midan and were reinforced by security forces surrounding the area in the late afternoon. Residents said they saw snipers deployed on rooftops.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Clashes between rebels and government forces erupted for a second day in the Syrian capital on Monday, activists said, in some of the fiercest fighting to hit Damascus since the 17-month-old revolt against President Bashar al-Assad began.
Armoured vehicles rolled into the southern district of Midan and snipers deployed on rooftops, residents said. Heavy machine gun fire could be heard in video uploaded by activists in the area.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Opposition fighters battled Syrian government forces in Damascus into the early hours of Monday in what residents described as the fiercest fighting yet inside the capital.
Activists said the fighting spread from the south of the city to a second area as night fell. At least five people were killed and dozens wounded, locals said.
BEIRUT (Reuters) – Opposition fighters battled Syrian government forces in poor districts of Damascus on Sunday in some of the most intensive daytime fighting yet inside the city limits of the capital.
Activist Samir al-Shami, who spoke to Reuters by Skype from Damascus, said the fighting was underway in the al-Tadamon district in the capital’s south, after a night of sustained battles in the nearby Hajar al-Aswad district.