Heavy fighting is reported in and around the Syrian capital Damascus. On February 3, Jaysh al-Islam (Army of Islam) leader Zahran Alloush said his group now considered Damascus a “military zone”- the latest attacks on the capital were apparently carried out by them.Much of the bombardment was centred on Baramkeh, home to Syria’s state-run Sana news agency and Damascus University, which was forced to close.. State television said that three missiles struck near the Old City’s Umayyad Mosque, one of the largest in the world. The rebel group, which follows Islamist doctrine and has received support from Saudi Arabia in the past,
Government forces have been regularly attacking Douma and its surrounding areas – a stronghold of Mr Alloush’s group – by air raids and helicopter barrel bomb attacks. Hundreds of civilians have been killed alongside opposition fighters.
Douma From the Inside
The residents of the region take pride in their land, and indulge in detailed descriptions of their city when asked about it. Douma is at the heart of the countryside, and a large proportion of people here are active in trade and agriculture.
For 20 years, Douma was mostly devoid of any foreigners, with the exception of some Palestinian families that became virtually embedded into the general fabric of the city.
Its large marketplace is considered a vibrant and economic center that is essential to the surrounding areas. A great number of major government institutions can also be found in Douma. These institutions draw many people, including shoppers, on a daily basis. This then leads to healthy financial benefits for the city.
The city’s middle-class residents are traders known for their kindness, generosity, chivalry and conservatism.
Their relationships with one another grew closer with the outbreak of the protests. In Douma, families are interconnected and mutually supportive, and no one ever sleeps hungry.
As we took cover from a sniper, one activist and college student told us of the city’s history. He said Douma defied the rule of the Baath Party during the separation [from the United Arab Republic with Egypt]. After Syria seceded from the UAR, Douma remained rebellious for long periods of time, resisting the new regime’s authority.
[November 20 2011 Baathist (Socialist Arab Rebirth) party building in Damascus hit at dawn by RPGs]
Free Syrian Army insurgents fired two rocket-propelled grenades at the Baathist (Socialist Arab Rebirth) party building in Damascus. “The attack was just before dawn and the building was mostly empty. It seems to have been intended as a message to the regime.” Ankara was drawing up plans to create a no-fly zone or buffer zone to protect civilians if the conflict worsens. The Free Syrian Army’s leadership currently operates from Turkey.
On November 16, , Syrian army defectors attacked military and intelligence bases near the capital of Damascus and an army checkpoint in Hama province.
The deadliest attack was in Hama, where army defectors killed at least eight soldiers and security forces in the checkpoint assault in the village of Kfar Zeita, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
But the most brazen attacks were just outside Damascus. Attacks by army defectors have been rare near Assad’s seat of power, so Wednesday marked a significant shift.
The Free Syrian Army — a group of military defectors — said in a statement that its main pre-dawn attack targeted a compound run by air force intelligence in the Damascus suburb of Harasta. Defectors also hit checkpoints in the Damascus suburbs of Douma, Qaboun and Arabeen and Saqba.
Despite the army defections, the military has remained loyal to Assad to a large degree.
Most of the defectors appear to be lower-level Sunni conscripts, not officers. read