Syrian Army Strikes Damascus 'Burbs

Situation looks to be unraveling near the capital
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 29, 2012 12:36 PM CST
Syrian Army Strikes Damascus 'Burbs
A funeral in Damascus, Syria, today, where the Syrian military launched an offensive to regain control of suburbs on the eastern edge of Damascus.   (AP Photo/Ugarit News Group via APTN)

The Syrian military launched an offensive to regain control of suburbs on the eastern edge of Damascus today, storming neighborhoods and clashing with groups of army defectors in fierce fighting that sent residents fleeing and killed at least 12 people, activists said. Violence elsewhere in the country killed at least 17 more people, including six soldiers in a roadside bombing south of the capital, according to the Local Coordination Committees activist network

Some of the fighting was only two miles from Damascus, making it the closest yet to the capital as President Bashar al-Assad's regime pushes to uproot protesters and dissident soldiers. The assault on the suburbs seemed to be a sign of the growing presence of dissident soldiers closer to Damascus, and the regime's rising concern about the situation. After the Arab League halted its mission yesterday, the international community is scrambling to find a resolution to the crisis, and the violence on the ground in Syria continues unabated. UN chief Ban Ki-moon said today he was "concerned" about the League's decision and called on Assad to "immediately stop the bloodshed." (Read more Syria stories.)

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