Fighting erupts near Damascus ahead of cease-fire

Assad's forces fire heavy tank and rocket barrages, killing 5; UN war crime investigators seek Assad meeting.

By REUTERS
October 25, 2012 10:43
2 minute read.
Smoke is seen rising over Damascus

Smoke is seen rising over Damascus 370 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

AMMAN - President Bashar Assad's forces fired heavy tank and rocket barrages at a Damascus suburb on Thursday, killing five people, opposition activists said, a day before a UN-brokered ceasefire is due to come into force.

Meanwhile, United Nations war crimes investigators said they would seek a meeting with Assad.  The team, led by Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro, has been gathering evidence and testimony for the past year on atrocities committed by Syrian government forces and armed rebels in the 19-month-old conflict.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


"We decided to send a letter to President al-Assad calling for a meeting ... it would be very important that he could receive us," Pinheiro told reporters.

The fighting in Harasta, just northeast of Damascus, erupted after rebels overran two army roadblocks on the edge of the large town, which is on the main highway linking the capital to the country's north, they said.

"Harasta is being pummeled by tanks and rocket launchers deployed in the highway. The rebels are putting up a fight and it does not seem the army will be able to enter the town this time," Mohammad, a Damascus resident, said by phone.

He was referring to the last armored incursion by loyalist forces into Harasta a month ago, which opposition campaigners said had killed 70 people.

Click for full JPost coverage

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


Harasta is one of a series of large Sunni Muslim suburbs ringing the Syrian capital that have been at the forefront of the 19-month-old rebellion against Assad.

He belongs to the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam that has dominated Syrian politics since the 1960s.

The Harasta Media Office opposition activists' group described the town as a "disaster zone" following the shelling.

"An (army) roadblock had been set up next to the main bakery. There is no water, no food, no medicine and prolonged power cuts," it said in a statement.

Other residents of Damascus said the sound of shelling targeting Harasta and the nearby neighborhood of Zamalka could be heard from the center of the capital.

On Wednesday, an Arab League mediator for the Syrian conflict told the U.N. Security Council that Assad has accepted a ceasefire for the Muslim 'Eid' holiday starting on Friday.

An announcement by the Syrian authorities was expected later. But Moaz al-Shami, an opposition activist in Damascus said "no one is taking the ceasefire seriously".

"How can there be a ceasefire with tanks roaming the streets, roadblocks every few hundred meters and the army having no qualms about hitting civilian neighborhoods with heavy artillery? This is a regime that has lost all credibility."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Iranians shout slogans during a protest in Tehran, Iran, against President Donald Trump
November 20, 2018
Ex-CIA Director Hayden to 'Post': Iran looking to outlast Donald Trump

By YONAH JEREMY BOB