Free Syrian army soldiers took control of border crossings to Turkey and Iraq 2007121

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Conflict in the World - Syria

 
 
Friday, July 20, 2012, 09:29 AM
 
Free Syrian army soldiers took control of border crossings to Turkey and Iraq.

Rebels seized control of sections of Syria's international borders and torched the main police headquarters in the heart of old Damascus, advancing relentlessly after the assassination of President Bashar al-Assad's closest lieutenants. The battle for parts of the capital raged into the early hours of Friday, July 20, 2012, , with corpses piled in the streets. In some neighborhoods, residents said there were signs the government's presence was diminishing.

     
Rebels seized control of sections of Syria's international borders and torched the main police headquarters in the heart of old Damascus, advancing relentlessly after the assassination of President Bashar al-Assad's closest lieutenants
This image made from amateur video released by Shaam News Network and accessed by the Associated Press Thursday, July 19, 2012 purports to show a Syrian rebel defacing a picture of President Bashar Assad at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey.
     
Officials in neighboring Iraq confirmed that Syrian rebels were now in control of the Syrian side of the main Abu Kamal border checkpoint on the Euphrates River highway, one of the major trade routes across the Middle East.

Rebels also claimed control of at least two border crossings into Turkey at Bab al-Hawa and Jarablus, in what appeared to have been a coordinated campaign to seize Syria's frontiers.

The operations to seize the border checkpoints appear to show a level of coordination and effectiveness hitherto unseen from the rebels, who have been outgunned and outnumbered by the army throughout the 16-month conflict.

     

View Syria conflict combat map situation 27 July 2012 in a larger map (Click on Icon map for more info)
     

Footage filmed by rebels at the Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey showed them climbing onto rooftops and tearing up a poster of Assad.

"The crossing is under our control. They withdrew their armored vehicles," said a rebel fighter who would only be identified as Ali, being treated for wounds on the Turkish side.

Two officers in the rebel Free Syrian Army said fighters were keeping themselves busy into the early hours of Friday, dismantling border computer systems, seizing security records and emptying the shelves of the duty-free shop.

At least 30 government tanks in the area had not mobilized to try to recapture the border post, according to Ahmad Zaidan, a senior Free Syrian Army commander.

     
In Damascus, a witness in the central old quarter district of Qanawat said the huge headquarters of the Damascus Province Police was black with smoke and abandoned after being torched and looted in a rebel attack.
Smoke billows from a burned military truck belonging to forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Jubar near Damascus July 18, 2012.
     
In Damascus, a witness in the central old quarter district of Qanawat said the huge headquarters of the Damascus Province Police was black with smoke and abandoned after being torched and looted in a rebel attack.

"Three patrol cars came to the site and were hit by roadside bombs," said activist Abu Rateb by telephone. "I saw three bodies in one car. Others said dozens of security men and shabbiha (pro-Assad militia) lay dead or wounded along Khaled bin al-Walid street, before ambulances took them away.

Government forces have responded by blasting at rebels in their own capital with helicopter gunships and artillery stationed in the mountains overlooking it.

     

View Battle of Damascus combat map situation July 20 2012 in a larger map (Click on Icon map for more info)
     

Activists in Damascus said rebels were now in control of the capital's northern Barzeh district, where troops and armored vehicles had pulled out.

The army had also pulled out of the towns of Tel and Dumair north of Damascus after taking heavy losses, they said. But they said troops were hitting the western district of Mezzeh with heavy machineguns and anti-aircraft guns overnight.

Shelling could be heard on the southwestern suburb of Mouadamiyeh from hills overlooking the city where the Fourth Division, commanded by Assad's brother Maher, is based, he said.

Syrian television showed the bodies of about 20 men in T-shirts and jeans with weapons lying at their sides, sprawled across a road in the capital's Qaboun district. It described them as terrorists killed in battle.

 

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