LOOSENING THE SIEGE OF GHOUTA: A rebel car-bomb rocked the TAMICO checkpoint and regime command center at the strategic crossroads between rebel-held al-Maliha and regime stronghold Jaramana, a Christian community in the southeastern suburbs of Damascus Saturday. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports at least 16 were killed.
The car bomb was planned as a suicide attack, but the bomber survived.
“We wanted to explode the al-Sakneh gate, but I was able to move further [into the neighborhood]. I parked the care and I saw that it was clear, so I could retreat. I did immediately,” a man who purported to be the bomber told an al-Jazeera reporter.
Jaish al-Islam, a recently formed rebel coalition comprising 100 groups in southern Damascus, as well as extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra and FSA-affiliated Ahrar al-Sham report their attack comes as a response to requests from the starving citizens of the Damascus suburb of Ghouta to break the regime’s months-long blockade of the town.
“Terrorist attacks took place Saturday at the entrance of Jaramana from the city of al-Maliha, lined by militants, resulting in casualties and wounded,” reported the regime-affiliated news channel SANA.
The regime air force responded to the attacks, shelling the area surrounding TAMICO. The al-Maliha LCC reports that clashes continue Sunday on the outskirts of the city and northern Ghouta.
TAMICO Checkpoint lies on an artery between East Ghouta and Damascus. Rebels have continuously shelled the command center, and stormed it several times, but have been unable to seize it. The checkpoint is the first line of defense for the regime air defense administration unit in Jaramana and, along with Jaramana’s Nour checkpoint, separates rebel-held East and West Ghouta from regime-held Damascus International Airport. The command center contains tanks and rocket launchers. TAMICO center was a medicine factory before the war.