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      Lucky Syrian Rebel Survives Direct Shell Strike

      Rebel fighter emerges unharmed from blasted room, returns to reclaim his heavy machine gun amid intense fighting.
      By Dalit Halevi, Ari Yashar
      First Publish: 11/6/2013, 1:13 PM

      Illustration: Syrian troops in damaged Aleppo
      Illustration: Syrian troops in damaged Aleppo
      AFP photo

      A fighter in the Syrian rebel forces survived a direct strike by a shell, apparently fired by a tank, which lay waste to the room he was in.

      After taking position in an apartment, he opened fire on Syrian army forces with a heavy machine gun from an opening in the wall. His location was identified and struck by a precise shell strike which blew open the wall and left the room in ruins.

      However, the fighter somehow survived the blast, escaping the apartment unharmed and returning later with other fighters to recover the heavy machine gun he had left behind.

      The event demonstrates the intensity of fighting by the rebels against the Syrian army which is backed by Iraqi and Hezbollah fighters.

      Meanwhile, an Iranian politician boasted on Monday that hundreds of Iranian soldiers are backing the army as well.

      Fighting does not show any indication of slowing down soon, with the Syrian army planning a large-scale Damascus assault in the near future.

      Discussions to end the internecine fighting which has reportedly left over 120,000 dead since March 2011, have met serious roadblocks.

      The initiative for a Geneva 2 peace conference has been threatened this week by the rebel refusal to attend unless the removal of President Bashar Assad is the main agenda, and by the Assad regime's refusal to join talks aimed at his stepping down.

      Video footage from the battlefield in Syria has documented some rare events. Several months ago another rebel fighter escaped unscathed after a mortar shell fell right next to the position he was in.