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. Analysis: Manchester attack was exactly what many had long feared


    LONDON — For Britain's security agencies, London always seemed like the likely target. For years, the capital of 8 million with hundreds of thousands of weekly tourists and dozens of transit hubs had prepared for and feared a major terror attack.

  2. Dade City man dies after crashing into county bus, troopers say

    Public Safety

    ZEPHYRHILLS — A 38-year-old man died Tuesday after colliding into the rear of a county bus on U.S. 301, the Florida Highway Patrol said.

  3. Suspicious device at Pinellas Park home was a spent artillery round, police say

    Public Safety

    PINELLAS PARK — Bomb squad investigators determined that a "suspicious device" found at a Pinellas Park home Tuesday afternoon was a spent artillery round, police said.

  4. NFL rewards Tampa Bay's track record, preparation with another Super Bowl


    Tampa Bay got lucky on Tuesday.

    We are getting a Super Bowl. We are getting a Super Bowl that we weren't supposed to get. We're getting a Super Bowl that we once were told we wouldn't get.

    Then came good luck.

     Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer (left) and son Edward Glazer celebrate the Bucs win and their upcoming trip to San Diego and the Super Bowl.  

[Bill Serne | Times]
  5. Baker fundraiser all about "Seamless City"


    Rick Baker kicked off a fundraiser Tuesday night at the Morean Arts Center making light of his 40-minute announcement speech two weeks ago on the steps of City Hall.

    Rick Baker speaks at a fundraiser at the Morean Arts Center Tuesday