Rebels reportedly kill scores of regime troops and militia, including generals


Syria’s rebels are reportedly close to taking control of a key regime base near Damascus, in a setback for pro-Assad efforts to overrun the East Ghouta area.

Some reports said that rebels took part of the Military Vehicles Administration base, near the suburb of Harasta, on Monday. Warplanes retaliated with bombing of both the frontline and nearby civilian areas. Claims circulated of “elite” reinforcements being sent to prevent the fall of the base.

Rebels tried in November to take the base, which is a central position for rocketing and shelling of East Ghouta’s opposition-held towns. They renewed the assault last week.

Pro-Assad outlets admitted last weekend that 47 troops and militia were killed within 24 hours. Claims are circulating that several generals and colonels are among the dead.

Russia and rebel factions agreed a de-escalation zone this summer, but the Assad regime and its allies have defied this with months of bombardment, as well as a tightening four-year siege that has threatened malnutrition and death from medical conditions for an area with almost 400,000 residents.

Scores of people have been killed in the past week by pro-Assad shelling and airstrikes. Civil defense sources said at least 38 were slain and 147 wounded since Friday, including five fatalities yesterday in more than 30 airstrikes and in shelling of a market in Douma.

Ex-Detainees: Poet al-Mallouhi Still Alive in Prison

Activists, including former prisoners, say that the poet and blogger Tal al-Malouhi is still alive and detained after eight years.

Al-Mallouhi was seized in December 2009, reportedly because of anger of regime officials over her blogging, including poems about Palestine and social commentary. She was February 15, 2011 to five years in prison on accusations including spying for the US.

The former prisoners say that al-Mallouhi, who turns 26 tomorrow, was seen in detention in 2013 and again in late 2016 after she was re-arrested. Friends of another re-arrested activist report recen contact with the poet.