Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clashes in Damascus appear to halt peace talk possibilities

Smoke and fire billow from an explosion in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday after heavy fighting erupted between rebels and government forces.

Associated Press

Smoke and fire billow from an explosion in Damascus, Syria, on Wednesday after heavy fighting erupted between rebels and government forces.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Shelling and explosions were heard in Damascus throughout Wednesday during some of the fiercest clashes reported in Syria in months, with government and opposition forces each claiming significant advances.

Smoke hung over parts of the capital, opposition activists said.

The renewed fighting in Damascus appeared to dash the faint hopes of peace talks in the almost 2-year-old conflict. Neither side has agreed on any dialogue, despite conditional offers from representatives of the opposition and the government of President Bashar Assad.

Late Wednesday, it was unclear whether either side had pushed forward or whether the government and rebels had managed to hold their positions in and around Damascus.

Opposition activists said rebel militias had launched coordinated attacks on checkpoints and other government-controlled positions in what some termed a final battle for the capital.

The government media office said the military had inflicted "heavy losses" on "terrorists," its standard term for armed rebels.

Central Damascus has been securely in government hands since late summer.

There was no immediate word on the total number of casualties.

Split shows at Muslim summit: An Islamic summit that opened Wednesday in Cairo showed the multiple divisions within the Muslim and Arab worlds, with conflicting approaches to the Syrian civil war exposing the Sunni-Shiite sectarian fault lines that have torn the region for years.

Egypt's Islamist leader, President Mohammed Morsi, sharply criticized President Bashar Assad's embattled regime in his address to the two-day summit, though he made only an indirect call for the Syrian leader to step down.

The conflict in Syria has been deeply divisive in the Middle East, pitting a largely Sunni opposition against a regime dominated by Assad's Alawite minority, a heterodox offshoot of Shiite Islam. Sunni nations such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are behind the rebels, while Shiite heavyweight Iran is Damascus' closest regional ally.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

Clashes in Damascus appear to halt peace talk possibilities 02/06/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 6, 2013 9:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Tribune News Service.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays DFA Danny Farquhar to make room for Brad Boxberger


    The Rays continued shuffling their bullpen, dumping RHP Danny Farquhar after Wednesday's game to make room for RHP Brad Boxberger to be activated off the DL.

    Farquhar, who worked an inning in Wednesday's 6-2 loss, had a 2-2, 4.11 record for 37 appearances, working primarily in lower leverage situations. In …

  2. USF to face Indiana in men's basketball next season


    The USF men's basketball team will get an early test from a Big Ten powerhouse next season.

  3. Rays employee helps save suicidal woman near Pirates stadium


    A Rays front-office employee joined umpire John Tumpane in saving a woman threatening to jump from a bridge near PNC Park on Wednesday afternoon in Pittsburgh.

    Multimedia production manager Mike Weinman, 32, was walking across the Roberto Clemente Bridge with Rays broadcasting director Larry McCabe when he …

  4. Blake Snell struggles in return as Rays fall to Pirates

    The Heater


    Blake Snell talked a good game ahead of his return to the Rays rotation Wednesday night, but he didn't pitch one.

    The Pirates’ David Freese scores on a Blake Snell wild pitch during the first inning against the Rays.
  5. College World Series title puts Florida Gators in elite company


    The Florida Gators put themselves in rare company with Tuesday night's College World Series national championship victory.

    Florida ace and Tampa native Alex Faedo (21) lets loose with his teammates after they win the Gators’ first baseball national title.