World Bulletin / News Desk
A ferocious battle in the eastern suburbs of Damascus has killed more than 160 people in the past two days, activists said on Sunday.
The fighting began on Friday when rebel units attacked a string of military checkpoints encircling the opposition-held suburbs in an area known as the Eastern Ghouta, which has been under siege for more than six months.
Local and international aid workers say Assad's forces appeared to be trying to starve out residents - indiscriminately affecting civilians as much as rebel fighters.
The blockade has cut off rebels' weapons supplies and helped turn the tide of fighting around the capital in Assad's favour.
"It is a ferocious fight between the two sides because it's a struggle over our ultimate fate here," said Bara Abdelrahman, an activist who works with the Islam Army brigades in the area.
The conflict in Syria has killed more than 100,000 people, according to the United Nations, and is also destabilising Syria's neighbours.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a pro-opposition monitoring group, said it had documented about 100 deaths on the rebel side on Friday and Saturday in Eastern Ghouta, and more than 60 among forces fighting for Assad. But it said there were likely to be more deaths which had not been documented.
"This battle has been one of incredible human losses," said Rami Abdelrahman, head of the Observatory. "The fighting is spreading all over the eastern suburbs."
There was no comment on the siege tactics or casualty figures from government spokesmen.
Among those killed on Saturday were five civilian activists caught in an ambush, local activist groups said. They said two were prominent figures Mohammed Said and Mohammed Tayyeb, who had made regular appearances on regional Arab TV channels.Last Mod: 24 Kasım 2013, 18:17