Syrian loyalist forces make gains in Damascus even as rebels continue attacks
A picture taken on November 13, 2013 shows debris and damaged buildings in the town of Hujeira south of the Syrian capital Damascus. (Image credit: AFP)
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President’s Assad’s forces captured a suburb south of Damascus. This victory is the latest in a series of gains that government forces have made in recent days.
The rebel held town of Hujaira, which is located next to a Shiite shrine fell after forces loyal to the regime took over a series of positions held by rebels.
Activist Rami al-Sayyed was quoted by Reuters as saying that fighters from the Qatar-backed Ahfad al-Rasul brigade as well as the al Qaeda affiliates al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, withdrew from Hujaira after being bombarded by artillery and air strikes for weeks. The rebel forces withdrew into Hajar al-Aswad, a dense neighborhood closer to the center of capital.
Sayyed said that southern positions held by rebels for the last year have been falling to government forces. He said that rebel forces have been scattered and morale has been affected.
Even as government forces made advances, rebels continued shelling predominantly Christian areas with mortar shells. On Wednesday, a shell slammed into a Christian part of Damascus. Two people were killed and seven were wounded in the attack according to AFP.
In addition, another attack on the Al-Hal market in Zablatani neighborhood in the center of Damascus wounded 13 people.
Both government and rebel forces are looking to make advances even as diplomats are scrambling to convene a peace conference in an attempt to find a political solution to the 2-1/2 year old civil war.