July 18, 2012 3:18:47 am
Rebels will intensify attacks inside the Syrian capital and target sensitive security installations in what they call an operation to liberate Damascus,a rebel commander said on Tuesday,after three days of fierce fighting in the city.
Colonel Qassem Saadeddine,spokesman of the joint command of the Free Syrian Army inside Syria,told Reuters via Skype that many fighters arrived in Damascus from several provinces 10 days ago to take part in the operation and more would be sent soon.
There is no going back. The Damascus battle has priority for us. We have started the operation to liberate Damascus, Saadeddine said,adding the rebels had called their operation Damascus volcano and Syrian earthquake.
For three days rebels and government troops have clashed in the streets of Damascus in the fiercest fighting in the capital since the revolt against President Bashar al-Assad erupted last year,but neither side seems to able to deliver a decisive blow.
This has been planned for some time now. We sent many groups and fighters to Damascus and its suburbs 10 days ago. We have sent at least 50 groups,each with around 50 fighters, Saadeddine said. We will hit security buildings. There is major coordination between all military councils regarding this. We will not stop,there is no return.
Syrian government forces backed by helicopter gunships and tanks battled rebels,a clear escalation in violence. The use of airpower reflected the intensity and seriousness of the fighting.
The rebels said they were bracing for a conflict that could last a month. Although they lacked ammunition,they said they had enough weapons to hold their ground and were seizing more arms from Assad’s forces across the country.
Meanwhile,French President Francois Hollande said on Tuesday that the Syrian General Manaf Tlas,a former friend and ally of Assad who fled Damascus last week,was in France. News also emerged that a Syrian brigadier-general and several other defected military officers were among 1,280 people to have fled from Syria to Turkey overnight.
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