Report: Assad Palace Hit by Mortar Fire in Damascus
Arab media are reporting that rebel forces have shelled the palace of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. The military airport and intelligence headquarters in the capital allegedly were also bombed, according to the pan-Arab Al Arabiya television news network.
The unconfirmed report came following an intense round of overnight mortar bombing in the pro-Assad Alawite enclave, Mezze 86, close to the palace. However, it is difficult to verify such reports due to the government restrictions imposed on journalists entering the country, and no further details were available.
Numerous embassies are located in the district, as well as the offices of Syria's intelligence service and other government offices. Three civilians were killed and 12 others were wounded in the shelling, Al Arabiya reported.
It also follows a statement British Prime Minister David Cameron made Tuesday, telling the Arab news channel he would support Assad's escape from Syria in response to a question about what he would say if Assad asked for safe exit:
“Done. Anything, anything to get that man out of the country and to have a safe transition in Syria... Of course, I would favor him facing the full force of international law and justice for what he's done,” he added. “I am certainly not offering him an exit plan to Britain, but if he wants to leave, he could leave, that could be arranged,” Cameron said.
At least 49 people had died across the country by midday Wednesday, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Fighting continued to rage in and around the capital, Damascus, as well in the northern commercial hub of Aleppo, near the Wadi Daif military base in the northwestern region, and elsewhere.
On Tuesday, at least 19 people were killed and more than 50 others were wounded in bombing attacks on Damascus suburbs, including three explosions in the western Qudsaya area, the Observatory reported.
Bomb explosions killed at least 15 and wounded dozens more in the Damascus district of Hai al-Wuroud, populated mostly by members of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's Alawite sect, opposition activists said. Syrian state media confirmed that an explosion hit the district, located in the northwest of the capital, but said only the blasts caused an unspecified number of deaths and injuries.
It also appears that Palestinian Authority Arabs have become caught in the crossfire between the Syrian government and opposition forces.
The AFP news agency reported Wednesday that the 148,000-strong Yarmouk refugee camp was shelled by rebel fighters battling Palestinian Authority Arab members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command terrorist organization (PFLP-GC) fighting alongside Syrian Army regulars. Ironically, it was reported earlier this week that the Syrian government closed down the Damascus offices of politburo chief Khaled Mashaal, who represents the PA's Gaza-based Hamas terrorist organization.
More than 36,000 Syrians have died since the civil war broke out in March 2011, according to the Observatory, initially as a protest ignited by the region-wide Arab Spring uprisings.