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Rare Footage: View from Syrian Tank Turret in Battle

Video from Syrian army tanks in Damascus battle shows army caution in the face of rebel advantages in urban combat.
By Dalit Halevi, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 10/31/2013, 10:13 PM

Destruction in Syria
Destruction in Syria
AFP file

A new video clip with rare footage from the turret of a Syrian army tank engaged in battle in war-torn Damascus shows the caution the army is exhibiting faced with rebel advantages in urban warfare.

In the clip, from the Jubar neighborhood in the north-eastern part of the Syrian capital, three tanks are seen advancing rapidly towards the point of confrontation.

Two of them enter an alley and open fire, releasing a barrage of shells. The shots are clearly not precise, intended instead as a deterrent.

There is no sign of infantry supporting the Syrian armor. At one point of the film, the footage is taken from a building, and conversations heard in the background shed light on the fact that the location is an observation post directing the tanks, and that the soldiers are not hurrying to enter the alley for fear of an ambush.

The Syrian tanks are seen with all of their panels closed, while the commanders do not dare to stick their heads out.

Although the Syrian army is succeeding in attaining temporary tactical gains by deploying large armored forces, it is having difficulty maintaining the security of its forces for any length of time.

Meanwhile, the rebels are making good use of their advantages in urban combat, taking out many tanks with anti-tank rockets from close range.

Damascus does not show signs of quieting down any time soon.

After stating at the beginning of October that it would withdraw 1,200 troops from Syria, Lebanese-based terror group Hezbollah is reportedly enlisting 15,000 fighters for what they term the "battle for Damascus." Hezbollah has been fighting on Syrian President Bashar Assad's side.

The video comes as the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced today, Thursday, that it has destroyed all of the equipment for producing chemical weapons that the Syrian government listed.

OPCW's next deadline is mid-November, by which time they expect to have a plan from Syria for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile, which is estimated to contain more than 1,000 tons of banned chemical weapons at dozens of site.

The spillover of the Syrian conflict threatens Israel as well, as reports released today claim the IAF destroyed Syrian trucks bringing SAM-8 missiles to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

On Thursday, Assad called on the west to stop backing rebels in order for a political solution to work. Ahead of a planned Geneva II peace conference, Assad opposed foreign intervention, saying the Syrian people had to decide the fate of their country.

115,000 people have died in Syria in the last 31 months, according to AFP.