Photo: AP
Ruins in Damascus neighborhood
Photo: AP

Damascus under fire, US deploys hundreds of troops in Jordan

Fierce battles rage in Syrian capital, Aleppo in north. After series of Assad forces victorie, Syrian rebels receive new arms, promise turn in tide

Assad's forces, backed by Hezbollah fighters, have launched a campaign to crush the rebel pockets in Damascus, particularly in the north-east of the capital and its surroundings.


Meanwhile, Syrian rebels are not losing hope, and high-ranking officers in the Free Syrian Army said they have received new weapons from friendly countries that could lead to changes on the ground and victories against President Bashar Assad's forces.


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At the same time, fears of an escalation in the fighting have led the White House to leave about 700 combat-ready troops in Jordan after the military exercise which took place this week in the Hashemite Kingdom.


כוחות אמריקניים במהלך התרגיל בירדן, השבוע (צילום: AFP)

US military drill in Jordan this week (Photo: AFP)


According to a statement made by United States President Barack Obama, per the Jordanian government's request, the troops will remain in Jordanian territory until the security situation will allow their departure.


According to the White House statement, the remaining force includes Patriot Missile systems, fighter jets among others.


Since Wednesday, Assad's forces have launched an attack against the rebel pockets in Damascus, and the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights (OSDH) reported the army resumed bombing the Qaboun

neighborhood of the capital.


נפילת פצצת מרגמה בדמשק (צילום: EPA)

Mortar shell in Damascus (Photo: EPA) 


Also in Aleppo, the army bombed several areas, and two rebels were killed in the fighting. Conversely, state TV channels in Syria reported that army forces killed several "terrorists" near the main Aleppo prison, and destroyed arms stockpiles and ammunition, including anti-aircraft weapons.


But against the backdrop of the seeming turn in the tide in favor of the regime, high rebel officials made clear that the battle is far from over after receiving new arms from friendly countries.


The arms shipments arrived recently from Arab nations and other countries, a spokesman for the opposition fighters, Loay AlMikdad, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.


He did not elaborate on the shipments but insisted no weapons have come from the United States so far.

AlMikdad's comments confirm earlier AP reporting that new weapons were recently delivered to the opposition from allies, enabling them to stall advances by regime forces in the northern city of Aleppo,

Syria's largest, and elsewhere.


Opposition members and experts had told the AP that Gulf countries delivered earlier this month new anti-tank missiles and some anti-aircraft missiles to rebel commanders.


But the United Nations have taken care to cool the rebels' enthusiasm: a UN human rights investigator warned on Friday that increasing the flow of weapons to Syria's government and rebel forces will most

likely cause an increase in war crimes.


"States who provide arms have responsibilities in terms of the eventual use of those arms to commit ... war crimes or crimes against humanity," said Paulo Pinheiro, who chairs a UN commission of inquiry on

rights violations in Syria.


Earlier on Friday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin stressed that the West shouldn't send weapons to "terror groups" among the Syrian rebels.


"If the United States ... recognizes one of the key Syrian opposition organizations, al-Nusra, as terrorist ... how can one deliver arms to those opposition members? Where will they end up? What role will they play?" he wondered during a press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.



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פרסום ראשון: 06.22.13, 00:29
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