World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian army forces pounded rebel-held suburbs around Damascus with fighter jets and rockets on Sunday, activists said, killing at least ten and wounding dozens in an offensive to stop rebels closing in on the capital.
Rebels planned to push into the city centre from their strongholds on the outskirts and fighting has been fierce. The army sent reinforcements after a week of rebel advances, including the capture of two military bases near the capital.
Activists said the heavy rocket attacks on Sunday killed at least ten in the town of Deir al-Asafir, 12 km east of Damascus. Video published by activists from the town showed at least five bodies, one of them a young boy and one an elderly man. The other bodies were wrapped in blood spattered white sheets.
Another video showed smoke rising over the skyline and some buildings in flames. Opposition reports are difficult to verify because the government restricts media access in Syria.
Syrian security sources and diplomatic contacts told Reuters that Assad's forces launched an offensive this week in a move to seal central Damascus off from the suburbs.
The army's assault appears to have staved off a rebel advance into central Damascus so far. But neither side has gained ground in recent days, and fighting continues along the outskirts of the city despite heavy shelling by Assad's forces.
Clashes around Damascus International Airport went into their fourth day on Sunday. It has effectively been closed since Thursday when the army tried to push back rebels there who say the entire airport road had become a battleground.
"The Free Syrian Army is striking the reinforcements trying to enter the airport to help the regime's forces...there are clashes all along the airport road," said Abu Nidal, a rebel spokesman in Damascus, speaking by Skype.Last Mod: 02 Aralık 2012, 16:30