BEIRUT — Heavy fighting erupted in Damascus today as government forces tried to hold back a new rebel effort to push the civil war into the heart of the Syrian capital, activists said.
The clashes in Damascus were the most intense violence to hit the capital in weeks. The sounds of gunfire and blasts from government shelling of rebel-held areas could be heard in most neighborhoods. Activist videos online showed shell explosions dotting rebel areas east of the city, covering them with clouds of smoke.
Damascus has not experienced the same fierce fighting as other Syrian cities like Aleppo or Homs, where whole neighborhoods have been destroyed. While the government has lost control of parts of those cities, it has kept a tight grip on the capital, despite rebel attempts to storm the city center from enclaves on its outskirts.