9:00 PM - 22 Dec 12 · Details
OPPOSITION FIGHTERS CONTINUE TO STORM ACROSS HAMA PROVINCE AND 200 SOLDIERS DEFECT NEAR DAMASCUS AIRPORT:
TIMELINE – 22nd DECEMBER 2012 13.24 GMT:
A truce negotiated by Palestinian officials between Government and Opposition forces in the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus, broke down yesterday after pro-Assad snipers killed several people in the streets of the camp. As a result, fighting has broken out again this morning.
Over the last 2 days several thousand refugees had returned to the camp rather than sleep rough in cold, damp conditions out in the capital’s streets and parks.
Many other Palestinians (790 of whom have been killed in the Syrian conflict since March 2011) have sought refuge in the already crowded Shatila Palestinian camp in Beirut as the BBC reports, HERE:
Hezbollah, the armed Lebanese militia, continues to support Assad and is reportedly very active in Homs province (see below). Some speculate that Hezbollah, a Shi’ite group sponsored by Iran, will itself come under attack itself once Assad is gone, but others doubt the Lebanese army is up to the job of disarming them. The BBC has an audio report,HERE:
In other areas of Damascus, fierce fighting continues. This morning, Saturday, Opposition forces are in conflict with Assad’s army on the International Airport road around the 3rd bridge. And not far from the airport, Opposition fighters gained control of the 81st Battalion base in Al-Maliha yesterday and around 200 Assad soldiers are reported to have defected in the battle, some of whom can be seen HERE:
Yesterday morning, Friday, large parts of Damascus were blacked out in a power shortage which the Government blamed on “terrorists attacking a transformer”.
Opposition forces have also been targeting Republican Guard units and unconfirmed reports this morning also say that there is fighting not far from the Presidential palace and in Douma. Opposition fighters additionally say they have taken the town of Rayhan not far from the notorious prison of Adra
Many of the southern Opposition held suburbs of Damascus continue to come under severe shell and rocket attack and massed Army troops, some withdrawn from other parts of the country, attempted once again, but unsuccessfully, to storm Daraya. Opposition fighters claim to have destroyed 3 Assad tanks in the last 2 days, plus this one destroyed earlier in the week, HERE:
In the Damascus suburb of Zebdeen, indiscriminate Government shelling resulted in serious fires, HERE: And in the suburb of al-Ghutah al-Harbiyah Assad’s soldiers, in leaked video footage, filmed the destruction of their own tanks, HERE:
In Hama province the Opposition advance continues with fighters entering the pro-Assad town of al-Talisiyah and taking the town of Morek on the Hama/Idlib highway after attacks on numerous checkpoints like this one, HERE:
Government forces have retaliated by shelling towns and positions taken by Opposition fighters earlier.
Fighters also attacked checkpoints at Latmin and took the town of Karnaz. Control of Hama province would virtually prevent the regime reinforcing or supplying any of its units in Idlib province. In Hama province, the Free Syrian Army (FSA), even have their own tank transporter, courtesy of the Government, HERE:
2 predominantly Christian towns, Mahrada and Sqailbiyeh, have been issued with an ultimatum by Opposition fighters this morning to give up their “Assad defenders” or risk an attack.
This map shows the rapid Opposition advance in Hama province in the last 6 days, with forces closing in (Green) on Hama city from all directions (Courtesy of @Markito0171). Larger format can be seen, HERE: