Following months of almost continuous bombardment of the West Ghouta town of Moadamiiyat Ash Sham — an offensive which has stopped only for a few hours to allow UN chemical weapons inspectors into the town and around 1,000 civilians out — the Assad regime on Wednesday has stepped up its offensive.
Over the past weeks, and increasingly in the past days, regime ground troops have attempted to invade the town, including via a route used by Syrian Red Crescent aid workers to evacuate civilians.
Citizen journalists earlier on Wednesday reported that the regime resumed artillery shelling on the town, amid intensified clashes between the Free Syrian Army and regime forces on the town’s northern and western fronts. There are also reports of heavy regime tank shelling in the area between Moadamiyyat Ash Sham and the neighboring town of Daraya. The two towns are separated only by a road.
Video footage from Moadamiyyat Ash Sham show renewed air strikes:
A shell lands on a residential neighborhood:
Assad’s Fourth Armored Division — the unit commanded by Assad’s brother Maher — shelling the town:
Reports Of Mass Killing Between As-Sukhna And Palmyra (Tadmor)
Local sources in the town of as-Sukhna in Homs Province are reporting that regime forces killed 15 members of two families belonging to the Al Amour clan as they tried to flee the bombing in as-Sukhna. The reports say that the 15 people were killed near the village of Arak on the road towards Tadmor (Palmyra) (click here for map) and that their bodies were taken to the hospital in Tadmor. The sources said in a statement on Facebook that regime forces did not enter as-Sukhna.
Man Executed By Firing Squad In Daraa For Rape, Murder Of Refugee Woman and Children
A 53-year-old man has been executed by a Free Syrian Army firing squad in Daraa Province, after his conviction by a military tribunal for the rape and murder of a refugee woman and her children in Wadi Zaizoun in the west Daraa countryside earlier this week.
According to a report on the Facebook page of a local activist group, the executed man — named as Salem Hamed Al Swehli, told the victim, Fawzia Al Ruwaily, that he could secure her safe passage to Jordan after the Jordanian authorities closed the border crossing and smuggling routes. However, instead of taking Ruwaily and her children to Jordan, Swehli raped her and then murdered her and her children with a knife, mutilating one of the bodies and hiding them in the Wadi.
A local farmer found the bodies concealed under some branches in the Wadi, and informed the Free Syrian Army, who investigated the matter and questioned witnesses. The FSA searched Swehli’s house and found that he had fled to Jallin, near Tafas, where he was later arrested and tried by the Western Daraa Sharia Court and sentenced to death by firing squad. A video of the execution is available on Facebook here (warning — graphic images of execution by firing squad.)
Heavy Shelling In Daraya, West Ghouta
We opened Wednesday with reports of intensified shelling, air strikes and ground clashes in Moadamiyyat Ash Sham. Regime forces are also targeting the neighboring town of Daraya with intense shelling.
Destruction after air strikes:
Smoke from heavy shelling: