Assad's forces bombard Damascus suburbs after gas attack: activists

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 21, 2013 11:44 PM
Assad's forces bombard Damascus suburbs after gas attack: activists

AMMAN (Reuters) - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces bombarded rebel-held suburbs of Damascus on Thursday, activists said, keeping up pressure on the besieged region a day after the opposition accused the army of gassing hundreds in a chemical weapons attack.

Rockets fired from multiple launchers and heavy mortar rounds hit the neighborhoods of Jobar and Zamalka, which are on the eastern outskirts of the capital. Between 500 and 1,300 people died on Wednesday from chemical weapons attacks in those areas, which are part of what is known as the Ghouta, the activists said.

Rockets also hit the nearby district of Qaboun to the north, where rebel fighters have repelled attempts by loyalist forces to overrun the area, and the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp area to the south, the activists added.

Speaking from Ghouta, activist Khaled Amer said explosions from rockets hitting Zamalka were being heard. In Jobar, a Damascus neighborhood only 3 km (2 miles) from the historic center of the ancient capital, explosions were heard at an army fortification and another compound housing tanks, apparently from a rebel attack on the facilities.

Fadi al-Shami of the Tarhrir al-Sham Brigade, which operates in the eastern Ghouta region, said scattered fighting was taking place along the Jobar-Zamalka axis and that opposition forces have moved closer to loyalist lines, partly to be in safer positions in case of another chemical attack.

(Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Amman newsroom; Editing by Eric Walsh and Lisa Shumaker)