SYRIA Mikati: Save Lebanon from abyss

Massive operation in Damascus leaves 47 dead

gulf news report
August 22, 2012
Image Credit: AP

Dubai- Lebanon’s Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged national unity to insulate the country from “the burning fires all around it,” after gun battles in his hometown of Tripoli.

Mikati expressed concern over “attempts to involve Lebanon more and more” in the conflict in Syria. All parties should consider themselves responsible for the “bloody events in Tripoli” and the “consequences resulting from killing, destruction and bloodshed that will not only impact the city but Lebanon as a whole,” he said.

The remarks came a day after eight people were killed and more than 70 wounded in the northern city of Tripoli in fighting between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, the latest sign that the violence in Syria is spilling into its neighbour.

Meanwhile, the Syrian army staged a massive assault on parts of Damascus and the nearby countryside on Wednesday, killing at least 40 civilians and leaving many fearful residents trapped in their homes, a watchdog said. Warplanes also pounded a rebel-held area of the northern city of Aleppo, while opposition fighters claimed they seized parts of a town on the Iraqi border, said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, putting Wednesday’s death toll nationwide at 120.

A car blew up in the Dumar district in northwestern Damascus, killing three men inside, the Britain-based Observatory said, without giving further details on the cause of the explosion. The army launched massive assaults on several areas where anti-regime sentiment is strong in and around the southwest of Damascus, including heavy shelling, helicopter fire and mass arrest sweeps, the watchdog said.

In the deadliest operation, the army raided the southwestern district of Kafr Sousa, killing at least 20 civilians, the Observatory said. Residents said the shelling was random, and shabiha (pro-regime militiamen) were moving freely through the district The army assault came the day after dozens of civilians were killed in shelling and in summary executions in Maadamiyat Al Sham, a town west of the capital, the watchdog said.The army claimed to have retaken most of Damascus in late July, after some two weeks of intense fighting across the capital’s southern belt. Most rebel Free Syrian Army fighters were forced out into the nearby countryside, but have since then resumed some hit-and-run operations, activists say.

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