Aleppo Media Center Hit By Regime Shelling
Insurgents Down Regime Helicopter in Raqqa Province
Civilians Flee Qalamoun Fighting, Enter Lebanon
Report: At Least 25 Civilians Killed by Regime Forces in Village in Homs Province

The Syrian military and Hezbollah appear to have launched their offensive in Qalamoun, mountains lying between Damascus and Homs and near the border with Lebanon to the west.

A well-placed EA correspondent reports heavy clashes on Friday. Hezbollah, Shia militias, and shabiha (pro-Assad militia) are involved as well as the Syrian Arab Army.

The Army is primarily taking care of logistics and providing air support. The military is also carrying out long-range shelling, along with Hezbollah.

Insurgents had said in October that they expected the assault before the onset of the winter rains. One asserted

We are getting ready to be attacked in Qalamoun. All the factions have set aside their differences and are prepared for the attack. We know it’s coming soon.

Assad forces hope to connect their Damascus-Homs corridor with the Mediterranean port of Tartous, the gateway to the coastal mountains running north to Latakia. Regime control of Qalamoun would also seal off the eorder with Lebanon, cutting access for insurgents, weapons, and supplies.

The Qalamoun Media Center put out this report via Facebook of events on Friday, saying that Assad’s forces had not managed to invade Qarah city:

Qarah city woke up today on more than 1000 soldiers and many tanks from Assad’s Army trying to break into the city as the heavy cannons targeted all the neighborhoods in it, what left many martyrs and casualties. But Free Army blocked this cruel campaign and destroyed a tank. In addition, another campaign by Assad’s forces took place in Humairah as they broke into it with big numbers of soldiers and tanks.

Meanwhile, the cannons in Shairoubeen Monastery continued to shell Rankous and Talfita. So in response of shelling the civilians and after many warnings, Free Army shelled the military equipments and cannons in this Monastery.

And as usual many cities in Qalamoun were shelled by Assad’s forces such as Nabek, Yabroud, Jairoud, Hererah, Wadi Barada, Naseryah and Zabadani where a massacre was committed by Assad’s forces against a whole family.

Since the early morning, Assad’s forces tried to broke into Qarah city with more than 1000 soldiers and tanks to take control of all the roads and streets leading to Maheen in the suburbs of Homs. So the Friday prayer was cancelled as Qarah city was shelled cruelly by hundreds of shells, what led to the martyrdom of tens of martyrs and the injury of many others.

The city now is attesting a hard time as the electricity and communications were cut off. But till now no truth to reports that Assad’s forces entered the city.

The Media Center posted this footage, dated Friday, of regime shelling on Qarah:

Aleppo Media Center Hit By Regime Shelling

The opposition Aleppo Media Centre, prominent in coverage of the Syrian conflict, was hit by a regime shell on Saturday afternoon.

The Center says that “miraculously, no one was killed”, with only two staff suffering minor injuries.

The Center has already relocated and begun work again, but says, “No place is safe now.”

It says shelling is far worse over the last week: “Today itself we have documented the shelling of 7 neighborhoods.”

Power is off through Syria’s largest city, with serious damage to plants from shelling and clashes.

A thermal plant outside Aleppo, captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and as-Sham earlier this month and put out of operation during the fighitng:

Insurgents Down Regime Helicopter in Raqqa Province

Civilians Flee Qalamoun Fighting, Enter Lebanon

The regime offensive in Qalamoun is already leading to displacement of civilians:

Some 1,000 families have fled to Arsal since Friday,” said Ahmad al-Hojairi, a local official in the Lebanese border town:

We are trying to accommodate them in people’s homes and in tents, but there is no way we can cover for their needs,” he told AFP news agency.

We need urgent help from the international community to adequately support them.

Al-Hojairi said the families were crossing the border by car, by motorbike, or on foot, and more were expected as fighting escalates.

Lebanon already has more than 814,000 Syrian refugees.

Report: At Least 25 Civilians Killed by Regime Forces in Village in Homs Province

Activists claim Syrian forces have killed at least 25 civilians, most of them women and children, in a raid on Wadi Al Mawlah village in Homs Province. Others are detained or missing.

Wadi Al Mawlah is near Qusayr, the town seized by the regime in June on the Lebanese border.

The activists say that troops and shabiha paramilitary entered the house of Naser Ahmed Al Rajab, a leading member of the village, to arrest him. Confronted by Al Rajab’s brother, they shot him and killed the other family members in the house. The Syrian military allegedly then ordered bombardment of the village by artillery and tanks.

More civilians were executed, and the remaining Al Rajab family members were slain or arrested. Activists say troops also took belongings and burnt cars and houses.

The Al Rajab family was amongst the first families to begin organizing peaceful protests in the area in 2011. Several members were killed or arrested during initial regime attacks in May 2011.