IMAGE: An airstrike on Douma, east of Damascus, on Wednesday



Analysis: Turkey Nears Joint Operations with US for “Safe Zone” — But Will It Be Protected from Assad?

Four days after its mass killing of civilians in Douma, the Syrian air force is continuing bombardment of Damascus suburbs.

Meanwhile, rebels are attacking regime forces near Syria’s capital, reportedly causing scores of casualties in Harasta on Wednesday.

On Sunday, at least 112 people died in Douma, east of Damascus, from bombing and shelling. The attacks continued on Wednesday:

See Syria Daily, August 17: Regime Attacks Kill Almost 200 on Sunday

The Local Coordination Committees reported confirmation of 23 deaths in and near Damascus yesterday, among 55 casualties across the country.

Meanwhile, rebels continued ground attacks on Syrian troops in Harasta, northeast of Damascus. The Ajnad al-Sham faction reportedly destroyed two buildings housing Assad forces. Estimates of those killed were between 50 and 60.

The Syrian air force responded with strikes on the town. Among victims were Civil Defense members — one was killed and three wounded as they filmed attacks near their building:

Last weekend, just before the mass killing in Douma, the Jaish al-Islam faction struck in Harasta, killing regime troops at the Vehicle Directorate.

Harasta, with a pre-conflict population of about 40,000, has been contested between the regime and rebels since autumn 2011.

Conflicting Claims Over 7-Week Hezbollah-Regime Offensive on Zabadani

There are more conflicting claims this morning over the state of the 7-week Hezbollah-regime offensive to take Zabadani, 31 km (19 miles) northwest of Damascus, which has been held by rebels since January 2012.

Pro-Assad outlets claim this morning — as they have done for weeks — “SAA [Syrian Army] and Hezbollah Nearing Victory“, with surrenders of rebels near the the town center.

But pro-opposition activists are reporting a rebel attack from the east to assist colleagues inside Zabadani:

State media later admitted the rebel counter-attack while trying to minimize it:

An army unit and the Lebanese Resistance foiled terrorists’ attempt to infiltrate towards a military post from the eastern side of al-Zabadani city in Damascus Countryside, leaving large numbers of terrorists dead or injured, a military source said.

Battles in al-Ghab Plain in Hama Province After Regime Counter-Offensive

Ongoing clashes are reported in the al-Ghab Plain in Hama Province, two days after the Syrian military launched a counter-offensive.

The Jaish al-Fateh rebel coalition said they have closed on Msheek and al-Ziyarah, taken by the regime on Tuesday. The Syrian army still holds Tal Wassit, Mansoura, and Khirbet al-Naqous.

Syrian forces withdrew from the northern Plain two weeks ago, as rebels swept south from Idlib Province towards Hama city. The Assad troops regrouped in two key bases in Joureen, protecting the regime’s heartland of Latakia Province.

See Syria Daily, August 19: Regime Counter-Attack in Hama Province — Clever, Foolish, or Desperate?