Sunday, December 2, 2012

Lebanese army clashes with Syrian rebels on border; Syrian forces pound Damascus suburbs

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanese troops fought with Syrian rebels on the border between the two countries on Sunday, in what a security source said was the first such clash between Lebanon's army and the rebels.

The clash occurred when a Lebanese border patrol spotted the rebel fighters along the border and the rebels opened fire to prevent the patrol from approaching, a Lebanese military source said. He said there were no casualties.
BEIRUT (Reuters) - Syrian forces pounded rebel-held suburbs around Damascus with fighter jets and rockets on Sunday, opposition activists said, killing and wounding dozens in an offensive to push rebels away from the airport and stop them closing in on the capital.

The army struck hard after a week of rebel advances, including the capture of two military bases near the capital. Rebels had been planning to push into central Damascus from their strongholds on the outskirts and fighting in the past week has been fierce.

Activists said heavy rocket fire struck towns close to the Damascus airport road, where rebels and the army had been locked in three days of clashes. Some described constant shelling, similar to carpet bombing, in towns like Beit Saham.

"It was frightening because it was the first time we heard continuous shelling. Really powerful explosions, one after the other, were shaking the area. I could see fire coming up from the town," said Samir al-Shami, from the opposition's Syrian Youth Union, speaking by Skype.

"This was the worst day in those people's lives."