LATEST: Video — Insurgents Hit 2 Regime Tanks Within Minute
The ongoing fight to control areas on the edges of Damascus — a key reason for the regime’s use of chemical weapons on August 21 — was evident again on Friday, with the Syrian military bombarding Qaboun in the north of the capital.
There has been fighting in the area, which has a number of security buildings for months, as well as in Jobar to the south.
On Friday, the regime shelling produced another chemical weapons scare when a video claimed to show a victim of toxins. In the end, the assertion was reduced to “poisonous gases”, with no more than 10 victims. That indicated a deadly side effect of conventional attacks, rather than another deliberate use of chemicals by the Assad regime.
The events in Qaboun highlighted Friday’s theme for anti-regime protests, “It’s Not Just With Chemicals That Assad is Killing Our People”. A march in the Saleheddin area of Aleppo:
Video: Insurgents Hit 2 Regime Tanks Within Minute
Footage of insurgents using Chinese-made HJ-8 missiles to destroy two regime tanks within a minute in Hama Province:
Video: Children Flee Saraqib, Fearing Regime TNT Barrel Bomb Attacks
Emotive footage from Saturday shows children being evacuated from Saraqib in Idlib Province, as the regime continues to pound villages in the area with explosive barrel bombs. One child says she is frightened of a barrel bomb attack.
What are barrel bombs and why does the Syrian Arab Army use helicopters to drop them on towns and villages? Simply, they are ordinary barrels packed with TNT, oil and chunks of steel. Cheaper than bombs, these improvised weapons cause massive damage over a wider area, as well as horrific injuries — and can easily be dropped from helicopters that can hover fairly low over residential areas.
European Foreign Ministers Put Out Cautious Statement on Intervention
European Union Foreign Ministers have put out a cautious statement calling for a response to the Assad regime’s chemical attacks, but stopping short of endorsing military intervention.
The EU’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, said after the meeting of the 28 ministers, “We want to see a clear and strong response.” However, caught between the desire of countries like Britain and France for intervention and opposition by others like Germany and Italy, the statement did not give any detailed endorsement of action.
Ashton said that EU ministers welcomed French President Francois Hollande’s decision to await the release of an UN investigation before taking any measures, but the Obama Administration has already said it will not forego a decision until the UN report is released.
But Kerry made clear to the EU ministers that Washington had not decided to postpone a decision on military action until the release of the UN report.
Video:Regime Drops Barrel Bombs On Jabal Alarbaeen, Ariha
Although regime forces have managed to retake the strategic town of Ariha in Idlib Province — a gain that State media has only begun reporting on Saturday [though State news agency SANA is currently down] — it still faces difficulties in the area. In particular regime forces have not yet managed to secure the whole length of the road to Aleppo, meaning that pro-Assad troops cannot get supply convoys through to support positions around the city.
The regime continues to heavily bombard the area. On Saturday, activists report that the regime is continuing to drop explosive barrel bombs on Jabal Arbaeen near Ariha city.
Footage from Friday shows the immediate aftermath of similar barrel bomb attacks on the area.
The sustained regime attacks on Ariha have caused much of the population to flee to neighboring towns and villages — though many of these are also under attack. This footage from Friday shows a local relief organization preparing to send food aid to support Ariha.
Video: Insurgents Shell Military Academy In Aleppo With Homemade Rockets
Free Syrian Army insurgents on Saturday shelled the Military Academy building in Aleppo with homemade rockets.
Local citizen journalist agency the Halab News Network reported earlier this week that the regime advised officers in Aleppo’s Hamadaniya district, where the Military Academy is located, to leave because regime forces are unable to protect them. The news agency said its spotters had seen some of the officers and their families leaving for Tartous.
Video: Camera Captures Three Consecutive Rocket Strikes On Daraya, Damascus Suburbs
Footage from Saturday shows three consecutive regime strikes on Daraya in the Damascus suburbs. The regime has ramped up its already ferocious offensive on East and West Ghouta towns — in many cases bombarding the same towns that were targeted in the August 21 chemical weapons attacks.
Activists in the area also report that the regime is shelling the East Ghouta towns of Irbeen and Zamalka.
Obama Video: Syria Intervention “Will Not Be Another Iraq or Afghanistan”
President Obama has used his weekly radio and Internet address to tell Americans that military action in Syria “would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan….Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope —- designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so.”
Video: Free Syrian Army Fighters Claim Regime Shelled Maaloula
Footage of Free Syrian Army fighters touring archaeological and religious sites in the ancient Christian town of Maaloula, which they claim was shelled by regime forces after insurgents briefly reached the center on Thursday:
Videos: Regime MiG Warplane Bombs Hospital In Tafas, Daraa
The regime has intensified its attack on insurgent-controlled towns in Daraa Province in the south. Footage from Saturday morning shows the immediate aftermath of a MiG airstrike on a hospital in Tafas:
Videos – Regime Hits Muadamiyyah Ash-Sham With Barrage Of Surface To Surface Missiles
On Saturday morning, regime forces have hit the East Ghouta town of Muadamiyyah Ash Sham with a barrage of surface-to-surface missiles.
The regime has been pounding the town in a ferocious offensive starting with the August 21 chemical weapons attacks. With a window of opportunity to take the insurgent-controlled and strategically located town narrowing ahead of a possible U.S. strike, this morning the regime offensive appears to have intensified still further.
The Local Coordination Committees claim 64 people were killed on Friday, including 16 martyrs in Damascus and its suburbs, 13 in Daraa Province, and 10 in Aleppo Province.
The Violations Documentation Center put the number of dead at 72,384 since the conflict began in March 2011, an increase of 89 from Friday. Of the dead, 54,591 are civilians, a rise of 42 from yesterday.