Syrian troops and rebels clashed outside of southern Damascus Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, and Agence France-Presse reported that Syria's Al-Watan newspaper criticized the regime in a rare move for the paper considered "close" to the government.
The fighting near Damascus is currently underway near the rebel stronghold town of Hejeira. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that clashes near the Shiite holy site, Sayyida Zainab, are also underway. Hezbollah fighters are reportedly backing Syrian government forces in both areas. Within recent weeks, the government has managed to seize four other nearby neighborhoods.
In Aleppo, Syria's Al-Watan newspaper criticized the government regime "for failing to address the devastation in the country's second city of Aleppo." The published criticism represents a significant and rare occurrence for the daily that is considered "close" to the regime.
Specifically, Al-Watan stated that Prime Minister Wael al-Halqi had "[failed to dispatch its economic team to Aleppo city] despite the invitation of the governor and the improvement in the security situation." Al-Watan further criticized the government's Electricity Minister Imad Khamis who visited Aleppo Monday, saying that he "[finally] returned to the city a year after the last visit by a minister. The people want the government to show more interest in their city. They are waiting for visits from the prime minister and other ministers to examine the situation, which has improved somewhat."
The daily's criticism coincides with regime forces retaking of Sfeira, a town southeast of the main city, as well as discussion on reopening the Aleppo airport.
Opposition and regime forces control various parts of the city that has previously been referred to as Syria's "economic powerhouse."
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