Thu, August 23, 2012
World > Middle East > 2012 Syrian Situation

Raging battles persist across Syria, UN observers keep leaving

2012-08-22 21:30:34 GMT2012-08-23 05:30:34(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

DAMASCUS, Aug. 22 (Xinhua) -- The battles in Syria rocked on in a number of battered areas on Wednesday, gaining momentum notably in the capital Damascus at the time the UN observers are leaving Syria one group after another after their mission ended up Sunday with an abject failure.

Sources said the armed opposition fighters have tried to boldly attack the military airport in al-Mazzeh district earlier in the day, prompting the government troops to fend off the attack by hammering the armed rebels' strongholds with artilleries.

Sounds of shelling and gunfire have been heard echoing in a number of areas all day and overnight Wednesday, as witnesses said that the clashes have been raging on at a cluster of adjacent areas in Damascus mainly, Kafar-Suseh orchards, Darayya, Mu' adamiyat al-Sham, al-Razi orchards and the Aisha river slum.

The state news agency SANA said that the authorities seized a big quantity of weapons and ammunition while storming a hideout for an "armed terrorist group" at Mu'adamiyat al-Sham. It said the Syrian forces also clashed with an armed group at the Darayya orchards area, adding that the clash left all the group's members dead.

Urban fights have also cast its lumpish shadow on other areas near Damascus, such as the Harasta suburb, witnesses said.

Meanwhile, fighting continued unabatedly in a number of areas in the northern Aleppo province amid reports that the Syrian troops are making progress in its feverish operation to root out armed insurgency from the northern area.

SANA said that the Syrian troops are "severely hitting the mercenary terrorists" in a number of neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo, adding that scores of "terrorists" were killed Wednesday across Aleppo.

Meanwhile in the day, the oppositional Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said a woman was killed by the government forces bombardment on the Hanano neighborhood of Aleppo, adding that the neighborhoods of al-Midan, al-Sha'ar, and most of the neighborhoods at the east wing of Aleppo were bombarded Wednesday.

It said the clashes inched towards the Mengh military airport in the city.

In Damascus, the Observatory said dozens of bodies had been found tossed at al-Qaboun neighborhood, adding that the victims were thought to have been killed by point-blank gunshots.

Witnesses said that what is going on at al-Qaboun is a mini civil conflict between the residents there, adding that the anti- government people, who are Sunni, are clashing with the pro- government ones, who are mostly Alawite ones, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, to which the ruling elite in Syria belongs.

Meanwhile, the Observatory reported clashes and violence in the eastern Deir al-Zour, central Hama, southern Daraa and northern Idlib province.

It said that as many as 120 Syrians were killed Wednesday, 60 of whom were unarmed civilians as the rest of the alleged toll is split between rebels and government troops.

Yet, such account could not be verified independently.

As the fighting drags on, the UN observers are keeping on leaving Syria one batch after another after their mission expired Sunday. A total of 18 UN observers left Syria on Wednesday, with the rest of them expected to leave by next Friday.

Most of the mission's members have already left the unrest- ravaged country after their role had turned from observing a cease- fire into witnessing an ongoing escalation of violence.

Among the 18 observers who left Damascus Wednesday, four of them were Chinese. All the nine Chinese members have left Syria.

The UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS) suspended its field trips in June, citing the escalating violence that has not even spared their convoys some attacks. Their mandate was extended in July for a final 30 days and a new head for the mission was also appointed.

However, there was no sign the violence was declining, which prompted the UN Security Council not to further extend the mission but only left a civilian office in Damascus to keep a foothold in case the situation gets better.

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