NORTHERN GATEWAY TO DAMASCUS: The pro-regime Iranian satellite station Al-Alam reports from its embedded position with the Syrian army from the besieged Damascus suburb of Qabon. “We are liberating Qabon and we will free the people there from the armed groups in the area,” a soldier tells the channel.
“Qabon is the link between the capital and East Ghouta,” says Omar Hamza, the spokesman of the FSA’s Revolution Command Council in Outer Damascus. The district, located along the Damascus-Homs highway, is also the site of security agencies and military bases. The FSA holds an estimated 50 percent of the area now, with reinforcements reportedly sent in. Still, an intensified siege of Qabon began on Friday, with electricity and food supplies cut. “Losing Qabon will be a big loss” for the rebels, says a journalist working under the pseudonym Mazen al-Shami from the Sham News Network in Damascus. Al-Shami says a group of local activists participate in a Skype chat room where they exchange news of Damascus and its suburbs.
Opposition media reports that 200 civilians were trapped by the regime inside a mosque over the weekend, with unconfirmed reports that they had been released. “Regime forces are holding civilians who are trying to escape Qabon and preventing them from leaving,” says an activist in Outer Damascus named Osama. “Humanitarian corridors must be established immediately to evacuate women, children and the wounded in Qabon,” the Syrian Coalition said in a statement on Monday.