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Government forces, rebels battle for control of key Damascus-Homs highway

March 27, 2013 By Ahmed Kwider Syrian warplanes conducted raids […]

27 March 2013

March 27, 2013

By Ahmed Kwider

0327Syrian warplanes conducted raids on north Damascus and the Eastern Ghouta area outside the capital on Wednesday, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR).

The account matches reports among activists that violence in Damascus has dramatically increased on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, including an attack on the Qaboon district [see video here].

Government forces and rebel fighters are competing for strategic locations along the Damascus-Homs highway, with Qaboon being one of them. The Observatory reported that a warplane conducted two raids on Qaboon on Wednesday.

The Damascus-Homs highway links the east side of Outer Damascus with the west side, where rebels are geographically isolated in the Barada valley. If the rebels capture territory in the Qaboon area, they will be able to link up with their supporters in the Barada valley and start to push back the government by cutting off its supply route from the north.

Earlier this week, rebels attacked the General Chiefs of Staff building close to Ummayad Square, one of the gateways to Damascus. The Chiefs of Staff building is where security plans are made and then sent out to branches in Syria’s 11 other provinces.

Surrounding roads were closed and ambulances rushed to the scene following the attack, said eyewitness Abu Ali al-Shami, 27.

The attack on the military facility was not the first, said Tamim al-Shammi, a correspondent for the opposition Syria News Network (SNN). Jabat a-Nusra sent in a suicide bomber and three fighters last September.

This week’s attack shows the rebels are getting more sophisticated in their use of heavy weaponry, al-Shami said.

“The FSA has gained good experience from focused military training – now they do not miss a target,” al-Shami said. 

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