Opposition activists say the Syrian army working with Iraqi militia and Hezbollah fighters captured a key southern suburb of Damascus on Wednesday.

The activists said at least 20 insurgents were killed in Sheikh Omar as pro-Assad ground forces moved in under cover of Syrian army artillery and tank fire and aerial bombardment. Dozens of the attackers were killed or wounded.

Sheikh Omar lies between two highways crucial to supplying Syrian forces in Daraa and Sweida Provinces on the Jordanian border. Insurgents have been advancing in Daraa Province and challenging the regime in Daraa city in recent weeks.

Opposition sources claim the deployment of the Iraqi and Lebanese militia has been vital in preventing all southern approaches to Damascus from falling to the insurgency.

Homes Burn As Regime Shells Daraya, Damascus Suburbs

As insurgents make key advances to push back regime ground troops from Daraya’s eastern front line on Thursday, regime artillery continues to shell civilian targets in the key, opposition-controlled city.

Footage shows apartment blocks burning after shelling this morning:

Another view of the shelling:

FSA Storm Regime Positions In Daraya, Damascus Suburbs

Insurgents from the Free Syrian Army’s Al Miqdad Brigade have stormed regime positions on the eastern front line of Daraya, a key opposition-controlled town in the Damascus suburbs. The regime has been trying to retake Daraya for months. Thursday`s insurgent advances come after what activists report was a week-long operation. The insurgents managed to overrun 25 regime bases in the corniche area, killed several regime soldiers and captured ammunition and gear.

Footage of the initial stages of the storm:

Civilians Killed In Regime Airstrikes On As-Safira, Aleppo

Several civilians have been killed and others injured as regime warplanes launched fresh airstrikes on As-Safira in Aleppo Province on Thursday. As-Safira is southeast of Aleppo city (map).

Footage of the aftermath of the attacks (some viewers may find the images in this videos disturbing).


Scenes from inside As-Safira following rocket strikes:

The Local Coordination Committees claim 79 people were killed on Wednesday, including 30 in Damascus and its suburbs and 27 in Aleppo Province.

The Violations Documentation Center records that 75,259 people have been killed since the start of the conflict in March 2011, an increase of 55 from Wednesday. Of the dead, 56,143 are civilians, a rise of 42 from yesterday.