Syrian troops capture majority of key Damascus suburb
[CTVNEWS.CA] Syrian troops advanced in a strategic suburb of Damascus
...The capital of Iran's Syrian satrapy...
and bombarded other areas around the capital Saturday in a push to secure Hereditary President-for-Life Bashir Pencilneck al-Assad
Lord of the Baath...
's seat of power as rebels make gains in the north.

A government official said regime forces had taken much of Daraya, an area on the edge of a major military air base just south of the capital, after nearly two months of heavy fighting
... as opposed to the more usual light or desultory fighting...
that anti-regime activists say has killed dozens of people and uprooted tens of thousands more from their homes.

The announcement came a day after rebels and Islamic beturbanned goons seeking to topple Assad took full control of the northwestern Taftanaz air base in a significant blow to the military. The back-to-back declarations highlight the see-saw nature of the conflict in Syria, where one side's victories in one area are often followed by reverses in another.

In other violence, athletic champion Hisham Raqsha was shot to death in Damascus while on his way back home, according to the Observatory and state-run news agency
...and if you can't believe the state-run news agency who can you believe?...
SANA. SANA said Raqsha was the coach of Syria's walking team. His age and other details were not available.

Syrian troops have been battling since November to regain Daraya from the hands of anti-government fighters. The suburb is flanked by the key districts of Mazzeh, which is home to the military air base of the same name, and Kfar Sousseh, which holds the government headquarters, the General Security intelligence agency head office and the Interior Ministry.

It also is less than 10 kilometres (six miles) from the People's Palace -- one of three palaces in the capital used by Assad.

The government official told The News Agency that Dare Not be Named in Damascus that the army still faced "small pockets" of resistance but he expected the area to be cleared in a few days. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Rami Abdul-Rahman, who heads the Britannia-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, acknowledged "the army has entered most of Daraya's neighbourhoods." He added the number of casualties on both sides was high after weeks of fighting.

"Daraya is very important for the regime because the Mazzeh airport is a main artery for it," Abdul-Rahman said.

Daraya, which had a population of about 200,000 before the fighting, has been a stronghold of support for the rebels fighting the government since the start of the uprising in March 2011, posing a particularly grave threat to the capital.
Posted by: Fred 2013-01-13