FSA Says Battle to 'Liberate' Damascus Has Begun as Choppers Strafe Capital
Syrian rebels declared the battle to "liberate" Damascus
...The place where Pencilneck hangs his brass hat...
has begun as heavy fighting
... as opposed to the more usual light or desultory fighting...
raged across the capital on Tuesday and Russia said it will do everything to support a tattered peace plan.
The proclamation by the Free Syrian Army came as U.N.-Arab League
...an organization of Arabic-speaking states with 22 member countries and four observers. The League tries to achieve Arab consensus on issues, which usually leaves them doing nothing but a bit of grimacing and mustache cursing...
envoy Kofi Annan
...Ghanaian diplomat who served as the seventh and so far the worst Secretary-General of the UN. Annan and the UN were the co-recipients of the 2001 Nobel Peace Prize for something or other that probably sounded good at the time. In December 2004, reports surfaced that Kofi's son Kojo received payments from the Swiss company Cotecna, which had won a lucrative contract under the UN Oil-for-Food Program. Kofi Annan called for an investigation to look into the allegations, which stirred up the expected cesspool but couldn't seem to come up with enough evidence to indict Kofi himself, or even Kojo...
said the 16-month-old crisis, which is increasingly being described as a civil war, was at a "critical time."
The front man for the FSA's Joint Command, Colonel Kassem Saadeddine, said in Homs that "victory is nigh" and that the fighting would not stop until the whole of the capital has been conquered.
"We have transferred the battle from Damascus province to the capital," said Saadeddine. "We have a clear plan to control the whole of Damascus. We only have light weapons, but it's enough."
"Expect surprises," he added, without elaborating.
Fighting between Assad's forces and the Free Syrian Army has raged in Damascus since Sunday, and the FSA announced on Monday the launch of a full-scale offensive dubbed "the Damascus volcano and earthquakes of Syria."
Hours later, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said regime helicopters fired into Qaboon district of Damascus, while festivities broke out in al-Midan and al-Hajar al-Aswad neighborhoods.
"Regime forces used helicopters equipped with heavy machineguns to strike the district of Qaboon," the Observatory said.
An activist in the capital told Agence La Belle France Presse that FSA fighters had blocked an attempt by the army to storm Qaboon.
"The army tried to raid the neighborhood yesterday but the FSA stopped them," said the activist, who calls himself Omar.
Backed by tanks and low-flying helicopter gunships, the army randomly pounded the neighborhood with mortars and heavy machinegun fire, he said.
An activist who said he was in al-Midan said via Skype that the army was shelling the neighborhood "hysterically."
"The collapsing regime has gone mad," said the man, who identified himself as Abu Musab.
"The army has tried to storm the district, but the Free Syrian Army has stopped them. So they have intensified their shelling. They are shelling everything," he said, adding Ghazwat Badr mosque had been destroyed.
Witnesses also reported heavy machinegun fire in Sabaa Bahrat Square in the heart of Damascus, as well as in Storied Baghdad
...located along the Tigris River, founded in the 8th century, home of the Abbasid Caliphate...
Street, a main road nearby.
The regime vowed on Monday not to surrender the capital.
"You will never get Damascus," read the headline in Al-Watan newspaper, which is close to the regime.
In that context, the Israeli army's intelligence chief said Assad has moved troops from the Golan Heights next to Israel toward Damascus and other internal conflict zones.
"Assad has removed many of his forces that were in the Golan Heights to the areas of (internal) conflict," Major General Aviv Kochavi told MPs.
"He's not afraid of Israel at this point, but mainly wants to augment his forces around Damascus," Kochavi said, while saying the "probability of a conflict between Israel and Syria as a last resort for Assad is low."
Posted by: Fred