BEIRUT (AP) — Video of a Damascus neighborhood filmed by a Russian drone has provided a rare glimpse into the staggering scale of destruction that years of fighting has inflicted around the Syrian capital, seat of President Bashar Assad's power.
The video shot over the district of Jobar by RTR war correspondent Yevgeny Poddubny on Oct. 18 and obtained by The Associated Press on Thursday shows blocks of bombed-out residential buildings, most of them with gaping holes and others with their top floors collapsed.
Mushrooms of thick gray smoke billow out as targets are blasted, presumably by Syrian warplanes.
Thousands of Syrian army airstrikes and barrel bombs dropped from army helicopters throughout the country's civil war have reduced entire opposition-held neighborhoods in Syria to rubble. Most are in central and northern Syria, and some are in the eastern suburbs of Damascus where the rebels have been entrenched for several years.
The destruction in Jobar revealed by the drone video is the closest to the Syrian capital, where Assad retains a firm grip on power.
Syrian troops have been fighting rebels in the frontline district, which lies on the northeastern edge of Damascus and only few kilometers (miles) from the presidential palace, since 2013. Neither side has been able to make a breakthrough in the fighting, although state media has reported Syrian army advances in the last week as part of a major army offensive.
Artillery shells and airstrikes on Jobar shake Damascus on a daily basis.
The video shows an elaborate network of long trenches used by rebels in the conflict. It also shows gunmen running from building to building as they try to dodge artillery and aerial bombardment.
On a bombed-out dusty street, two tanks are seen firing artillery almost simultaneously.
Jobar is part of the eastern suburbs of Damascus known as Eastern Ghouta, which has been held by rebels for years.
The video is the first imagery that shows the scale of destruction from the air.
An edited version, set to electronic dance music, has had more than one million views since it was posted to YouTube on October 19.