Syrian Airstrikes Kill at least 7 Outside Damascus - The New Indian Express

Syrian Airstrikes Kill at least 7 Outside Damascus

Published: 05th April 2014 12:43 AM

Last Updated: 05th April 2014 12:44 AM

Syrian airstrikes killed at least seven people in a suburb of Damascus Friday, as government troops battled rebels in several districts along the eastern edge of the capital, activists said.

President Bashar Assad's forces have been seeking for months to solidify its hold on Damascus by dislodging rebels from the towns and neighborhoods on the city's fringes. The government has used twin tactics to achieve its aims: blockading rebellious areas to pressure them into submission and unleashing artillery and airstrikes on districts that refuse to bend.

One town that has held out is Mleiha, located just east of the capital in a largely agricultural area known as Eastern Ghouta.

Early today, a series of government air raids targeted the town, killing at least seven people, said Ammar al-Hassan, an activist based near Mleiha.

"There are very fierce clashes today and the bombardment is very intense," al-Hassan said by Skype.

He said the government is focusing on Mleiha because of its location along the main road that links Damascus with Eastern Ghouta, which has long been a predominantly rebel-controlled area.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported heavy fighting and airstrikes on Mleiha and the nearby Damascus district of Jobar. Observatory director Rami Abdurrahman said at least 26 rebels were killed in the clashes since Thursday.

Part of the government's desire to flush rebels from outlying areas of the capital is to prevent the opposition fighters from lobbing mortar rounds into neighborhoods of the capital.

Today, the state news agency SANA said five mortar shells slammed into Damascus' predominantly Christian Bab Touma neighborhood, wounding 22 people.

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