PHOTO: Aftermath of regime airstrike on Douma on Sunday (Bassam al-Hakeem/Reuters)
The civilian death toll spiked on Sunday in Syria, with the Local Coordination Committees recording 125 people killed.
The LCC, one of the most reliable outlets in the country, focuses on civilian casualties. It said 65 people were slain in Damascus and its suburbs and 36 in Aleppo Province. Among the dead were 11 women and 14 children.
Syrian air raids on insurgent-held neighborhoods on Sunday near Damascus included Douma to the northeast and Kafr Batna to the east.
The strikes were prompted in part by a significant defeat for the regime near the town of Mleiha, east of Damascus, where insurgents broke a months-long siege (see below).
Sunday’s toll is the first above 100 in weeks in Syria, despite the Assad regime’s continuing airstrikes, including barrel bombs.
How Many Civilians Have Been Killed by Lebanese Bombardment of Border Town of Arsal?
EA sources report that scores of civilians have been killed by the Lebanese military’s bombardment of the border town of Arsal, including a camp for Syrian refugees. The deaths came both from the initial attacks and the subsequent fires caused by them.
— Oliver Holmes (@olireports) August 4, 2014
The Lebanese assault followed weekend clashes with gunmen in the town which killed at least 13 troops. Other soldiers were briefly abducted (see earlier entry).
A Lebanese security official said the bodies of 50 fighters were found when Lebanese forces entered Arsal. However, EA sources say that there were few if any casualties among Jabhat al-Nusra members, although they cannot rule out the deaths of Islamic State fighters.
A resident told NOW Lebanon this weekend, that his home “was (hit) by heavy weapons, the kind that only the Lebanese army and Hezbollah have….Arsal is now being bombed randomly, all the houses are being targeted equally without differentiating between one and another.”
“The civilians are trapped, because they can’t go in or out,” said Carol Malouf, a journalist and activist who runs a Syrian refugee camp in Wadi Hmayed, east of Arsal, where the first clashes started on Saturday. “When (civilians) try to leave, there are a lot of snipers shooting at them,”
Fighting Continues near Mleiha
EA sources report that there are still fierce clashes near Mleiha, east of Damascus, after insurgents broke the regime siege this weekend.
The Syrian military is carrying out airstrikes and artillery shelling in an attempt to regain the initiative. Heavy casualties are reported on both sides.
Islamic Front Fighters Die Trying to Dismantle Regime Car Bomb in Douma
The Islamic Front says two of its fighters have been killed trying to dismantle a regime car bomb in the Damascus suburb of Douma.
The vehicle’s driver and the car was moved to a safe place with no civilians present. The 2 men from a special engineering unit then failed to dismantle the bomb.
EA sources say that at least 45 people were killed on Sunday in Douma by regime airstrikes, prompted in part by the Syrian military’s defeat near the town of Mleiha (see below).
The funeral of the two men:
Official: Lebanese Troops Enter Border Town, Find Bodies of 50 “Militants”
A “Lebanese security official” has said that Lebanese soldiers in armored vehicles advanced into the border town of Arsal and found the bodies of 50 fighters.
Lebanese artillery bombarded the town after clashes between gunmen and Lebanese security forces over the weekend that killed at least 13 Lebanese soldiers.
The fighting began after Lebanese authorities detained a man whom they claimed was a member of the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra. The allegation was denied by Jabhat al-Nusra, raising the possibility that the detainee belonged to another faction such as the jihadist Islamic State.
Gunmen subsequently raided a section of Arsal, storming a police station and releasing several Syrian prisoners. Two soldiers and two civilians were killed in the attack, and the attackers briefly abducted other troops.
The Lebanese military then bombarded Arsal. Claims also circulated of attacks by Syrian regime warplanes.
It is not clear if the 50 bodies are those of members of Jabhat al-Nusra or of the Islamic State, or indeed are of civilians rather than “militants”.
Insurgents Break Siege of Mleiha, East of Damascus
Well-placed EA sources confirm reports that insurgents have broken the long-standing siege of Mleiha, a key town east of Damascus.
The attack by a coalition of insurgent groups included heavy armored vehicles and vehicle-carried suicide bombs by the Islamist faction Jabhat al-Nusra.
Syrian forces have encircled Mleiha for months and tried periodically to take over the town, a “gateway” to insurgent-held areas in East Ghouta.
Videos: Insurgents Take Over Military Research Center in Aleppo
Insurgents move into the Military Research Center in western Aleppo:
The Center is the facility with the oval-shaped track:
State Media: 14 Killed by Insurgent Mortars in Aleppo and Damascus
State news agency SANA says 14 civilians have been killed by insurgent mortar attacks in Aleppo and Damascus.
Targets included a water facility in the Tishreen area of Aleppo, killing two employees; the al-Dweila section of Damascus, killing eight people; and al-Shaghour in Damascus, killing two.
Syrian Kurds Fight Islamic State in Iraq
Video of fighters from the Syrian Kurdish militia YPG firing at the jihadist Islamic State on the Iraqi side of the Rabia border crossing:
Meanwhile, Salih Muslim Mohammed, leader of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, said hundreds of YPG fighters are fighting alongside Iraqi peshmerga.
Mohammed said two Syrian fighters had been killed.
Video: Opposition Demonstration in Idlib Province on Sunday
Boys chant in an opposition demonstration in Jabal al-Zawiya in Idlib Province in northwest Syria on Sunday: