Violence surges dramatically in Syria over past 48 hours

March 20, 2012 6:57 am
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Debris removed from a damaged building after two car bomb attacks in Syria/XINHUA
DAMASCUS, Mar 19 – Violence has surged dramatically over the past 48 hours in Syria since Saturday, taking the battle between armed rebels and government troops to the capital of Damascus and northern Aleppo province which have relatively distanced themselves from the large-scale violence in other cities.

Earlier on Monday, gun battles occurred between armed groups and security forces in al-Mazzeh neighbourhood in west Damascus, the first of its kind to take place in an upscale district of the capital.

Sources told Xinhua that security forces were informed that an armed group is hiding in a rented house in al-Mazzeh. The forces evacuated the building and raided the house.

State-run SANA news agency said that at least two terrorists and a security agent were killed in the clashes, adding the security forces evacuated all inhabitants from the building before the operation. SANA said three automatic guns and bombs were seized.

“We couldn’t sleep last night, around 12 am we heard the sound of clashes,” a resident of the neighbourhood told Xinhua, adding that “the area contains a shopping mall, elders home, an orphanage as well as schools, so it’s not an appropriate area to make nests … those terrorists have neither conscience nor morals. ”

The rare clash in Damascus coincided with the severe clashes in eastern Deir al-Zour province between armed groups and government forces, featuring several explosions, according to the pro- government Sham FM radio.

On Sunday, an “armed terrorist group” detonated a booby-trapped car in Aleppo’s residential neighbourhood of al-Sulaymanyia, killing a law-enforcement agent and a women, at the mean time,” armed terrorist group” opened fire at residents in Hassiba village in the suburbs of the central province of Homs, killing 14 civilians including women and children, according to SANA.

On Saturday, two suicide car bombers detonated explosives near the aviation intelligence directorate and the criminal security department in Damascus, killing 29 civilians and security personnel and wounding 140 others.

Another car bomb exploded at Yarmouk camp housing thousands of Palestinians in south of the city, SANA said.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the explosions, while the Syrian government accused Takfiri terrorists backed by foreign parties of being behind the recent blasts in Damascus and Aleppo.

Takfiri is a term used to indicate an Islamic extremist ideology, followed by groups such as al-Qaeda, which takes the view “you’re either with us or against us.”

Syrian Foreign Ministry said tens of innocent Syrian people were victims of the “terrorism.”

Meanwhile, in an attempt to stem the violence in Syria, a UN technical mission, which arrived in Damascus late on Sunday, reportedly held talks on Monday with Syria’s deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad on ways to go through the year-long crisis and to discuss plans of sending international monitors to Syria.

There was no immediate statement from officials about the talks.

The mission, dispatched by UN special envoy to Syria Kofi Annan, consisting of Annan’s assistants and some Arab personalities working for the UN.

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