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Syrian capital, Damascus, hit with fiercest fighting yet [Video]

July 17, 2012 |  1:52 pm

The Syrian capital, Damascus, has been rocked by fighting for the third day in a row, according to opposition activists, who disseminated videos Tuesday showing the city under fire.

The violence marks the fiercest fighting reported in Damascus to date, The Times’ Patrick J. McDonnell and Alexandra Sandels report.

The rebel Free Syrian Army has billed the clashes with government forces as a “battle for the liberation of Damascus,” a possible turning point in the uprising that has raged for 16 months.

Above is a smattering of footage the Associated Press gathered from amateur video of buildings being shelled and rebels firing guns in Damascus. (Buildings are seen being struck and destroyed at 44 seconds and 52 seconds into the video.)

So far, the government appears to have kept control of key state installations and thoroughfares, rushing military reinforcements to battleground areas. The amateur video below, shared by opposition activists, appears to show government tanks entering Midan, a district at the center of the capital:

The next video appears to show Midan swathed in smoke, the sound of gunfire echoing through the streets:

Another video provided by activists is said to show more military vehicles entering Damascus, reportedly in the eastern district of Qaboun. The official Syrian Arab News Agency said rebels had attacked an electricity converter station in the area with mortar rounds and rocket-propelled grenades, while activists said the area had been under assault by government helicopters overnight:

The Local Coordination Committees opposition network shared this video, saying it showed security forces firing at the Othman Bin Affan mosque in the southern district of Tadamon, where the Damascus clashes first erupted Sunday:

The rebellious Damascus suburbs of Barzeh in the north and Duma in the northeast also reportedly have been roiled by unrest.

Although the Damascus violence has escalated, strife has long been reported in the suburbs: CNN released a report Tuesday that includes video recently delivered to reporters in Lebanon of an alleged attack last month in Duma, showing graphic images of corpses strewn on the ground.


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-- Emily Alpert in Los Angeles

Video: Intense clashes between Syrian rebels and government forces backed by helicopters spread to new areas of the capital, Damascus, on Tuesday and include a firefight near parliament. Credit: Associated Press