Damascus: the new battleground in Syria?

Damascus: the new battleground in Syria?
Analysis: Rebel attacks on central areas of the Syrian capital, and regime responses in rebel-held suburbs, suggests a new escalation in the war, with the city as a new front.
2 min read
06 February, 2015
Local residents bear the brunt of the attacks [Anadolu]
The Syrian regime's attacks on east Ghouta and opposition bombing of the city's centre suggest a new phase in the civil war, with no area safe. It also points to a regime clinging to control of the capital.

Opposition forces hit sensitive regime-controlled positions in the capital on Thursday, showing that no part of the regime's stronghold was safe or exempt from its strikes.  The attacks stopped government departments working, cancelled exams at the University of Damascus, and closed many schools.

Zahran Alloush, the leader of Jaish al-Islam ["Army of Islam"], said his forces attacked security centres and checkpoints. Two days earlier Alloush had issued a statement announcing Damascus a military zone and warning citizens against going near checkpoints and regime buildings.

     Tthe bombing proves the capital is within opposition forces range of fire, which can bring life to a halt whenever it desires.
Mahmoud al-Dumani, activist
Abu-Nidal al-Shami, the leader of Alwiyat al-Habib al-Mustafa ["Brigades of the Chosen One"], one of the larger opposition groups in Rif Dimashq ["the Damascus countryside"] told al-Araby al-Jadeed his forces were involved in the attacks. He also said Faylaq Al-Rahman ["Legion of the Merciful"], another large opposition entity in Rif Dimashq, was involved.

Activist Mahmoud al-Dumani said the bombing proved the capital was "within opposition forces' range of fire, which can bring life to a halt whenever it desires".

Ghaith al-Shami, another activist, told al-Araby al-Jadeed that more than 200 explosions were heard in capital. The main areas hit were: al-Mazzeh in west Damascus; al-Mazzeh 86, home to a large number of Syrian army soldiers and officers, the upmarket areas of al-Maliki and Abu Rummana where foreign embassies are based and  Baramkeh in the heart of the capital where the Syrian News Agency and most Damascus University colleges are located;
Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of al-Araby al-Jadeed, its editorial board or staff.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.