Syrian Rebels Battle In Assad’s Damascus Stronghold

Syrian rebels took to the streets of Damascus to battle Assad’s forces on Saturday, fighting for nearly 12 hours and leaving more than 42 civilians dead.

Saturday’s violence is the heaviest fighting yet in the capital city, marking an increase in the boldness among rebels, who have vowed to fight against the regime of President Bashar Assad in an attempt to overthrow him, according to CBS News.

U.N. observers stated that rebels fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the local power plant, damaging portions of it and also charring six buses nearby, according to an amateur video of the scene.

Syrian forces responded in kind, showing their willingness to unleash elevated force, even at the expense of civilian lives. CBS News reports that at least three tank shells slammed into residential areas in Qaboun, the central Damascus neighborhood, according to activist reports.

The Associated Press reports that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britain-based activist group, stated at least 42 civilians were killed, including 20 who died in a heavy pre-dawn shelling in Daraa, a southern city that marked the beginning of the uprising against Assad in March 2011.

The AP notes that the most recent mass killing was on Wednesday in the farming village of Mazraat al-Qubair in central Syria, where activists report that about 78 people were hacked, burned, and stabbed to death. The opposition forces and regime have traded blame for the attack. Syria expert Joshua Landis stated of the violence that:

“The heart of this revolt is the poor, jobless youth in the countryside. But that is gathering strength in other places, in Aleppo, in Damascus and even the Kurdish regions. The psychological state of the people, after watching these massacres, is so far advanced. People are ready to do whatever it takes. They are frightened; it could come next to them.”

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