August 23, 2013
By Jacob Wirtschafter and Nuha Shabaan
AMMAN: The battle for Damascus continued to play out on Friday as France called for strong action against the Assad regime and U.S. President Barack Obama warned of a limited ability to influence developments in Syria.
“The notion that the U.S. can somehow solve what is a sectarian, complex problem inside of Syria is overstated,” Obama told CNN in an interview airing Friday.
As an unnamed U.N. official told Reuters that the regime was behind gas attacks on the eastern suburbs of the Syrian capital, the State Department continue to hedge the issue, saying on Thursday that “we are unable to conclusively determine chemical weapons use.”
The polarized narratives surrounding this war continued to confound journalists trying to cover it, as the opposition declared up to 1,300 Syrians dead from gas attacks and the regime media insisting that nothing had happened
Pro-regime television aired pictures from an unnamed “French channel” purportedly showing rebels packing improvised missiles with chemical agents and the pro-Assad papers published allegations that the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood had smuggled gas to their colleagues in Egypt to use in pro-Morsi demonstrations in Cairo.
Meanwhile, citizen journalists and activists continued to upload videos and provide written testimonies of yesterday’s devastating assault on the towns of Ghouta, whose population counts 1.6 million people.
One video shared widely among pro-opposition Syrians showed a young girl waking from a coma, expressing shock to be alive.
“I can breath now, Mommy,” the child gasps as a doctor rearranges her position on a hospital stretcher.
“Families in most of Eastern and Western Ghouta from Moadhamiya, Darayya, Douma, Hammouriya, Arbeen, Ein Torma and Kofr Batna are still burying their dead in mass graves,” al Wazeer said. “There is panic, stress and chaos everywhere among women and children; after hearing any missile fall, they think they are being hit by chemical again.”
The pro-rebel Sham News Network reported wave after wave assaults by the Free Syrian Army, as official media said that military operations in the area were ongoing.
The opposition Sham News Network accounts of the Damascus battle included a hit on a platoon of government troops stationed at the electric company in the disputed town of Jobar, a “martyrdom operation” on the Qaboon-Zamalka highway, and destruction of tanks at several points around the city.
“We didn’t stop fighting for a second, not before nor after the chemical attack, “said Anas al-Wazeer, 28, spokesman for spokesman for the local Liwa al-Islam militia in Douma.