01/30/2012, 00.00
SYRIA

Assad troops recapture Damascus suburbs after two days of fighting

The suburb of Ghouta, seven miles from the capital’s center, was in the hands of rebels the of the Free Syrian Army. Fighting all over the country after the withdrawal of the Arab League on January 29. UN Security Council to discuss Syria.
Damascus (AsiaNews / Agencies) - The Syrian army has taken control of a suburb east of the capital formerly in the hands of Free Syrian Army rebels. Activists say that the army bombed the districts occupied by the deserters, and that 26 people from both sides lost their lives in what has probably been the hardest fighting since the beginning of the uprising in March 2011. Throughout Syria 60 people died over Saturday and Sunday, after the Arab League decided to withdraw its observers. The Syrian government announced that 16 soldiers were killed in separate attacks by the rebels.

The area concerned is Ghouta, where there have been many demonstrations against the Assad regime. According to the activists, who claim to have made a tactical retreat, about two thousand soldiers and 50 armored vehicles invaded Ghouta and other neighborhoods in Kfar Batna, Saqba, Jisreen and Arbeen. "It is urban warfare. There are bodies in the streets, "said a rebel, speaking from a neighborhood that is little more than seven kilometers from the city center. During the fighting the mosques were turned into field hospitals.

Rami Abdul Rahman, from the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, based in London, said that it was the "most intense fighting near the capital since demonstrations began," and he added: "The Syrian regime is trying to finish the uprising militarily now that the case is being taken to the United Nations". We must remember that the news coming from Syria can not be independently verified because foreign journalists have very limited access to the country.

The escalation in the fighting pushed the Arab League to suspend the work of its observers on January 29. Arab foreign ministers, who asked the Syrian regime to create a government of national unity, will discuss the developments of the crisis on February 5. The Secretary of the Arab League, Nabil al-Araby has left for New York to inform members of the UN Security Council tomorrow, and to seek support for an Arab peace plan. Al-Araby said he hoped to overcome the resistance of Moscow and Beijing and get their support to the plan of the League.

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