Syrian rebels fire at regime's base
Syrian rebels struck at the heart of Damascus yesterday, firing rocket-propelled grenades at the municipal headquarters of the ruling Ba'ath party in an attack that exposed the regime's vulnerability in its most heavily-fortified citadel.
Fighters on motorcycles launched a volley of grenades at the building, a highly symbolic target in the centre of the city, shortly before dawn, according to activists aligned with the opposition.
The Free Syrian Army, an increasingly potent force of army deserters, claimed responsibility for the attack, the first of its kind in central Damascus, which has remained largely calm since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad started in March.
The Syrian government strongly denied any attack had taken place, although it could not explain why the area around the building had been sealed off. Residents nearby reported hearing a series of explosions and seeing a plume of smoke above the city. Fire engines were later seen speeding towards the scene.
The attack represents a shift in the Syrian Free Army's tactics, one that has clearly unnerved the regime.
Until last week, the rebel group largely restricted itself to ambushes against police convoys along remote country roads.
But in recent days, the rebels have grown much bolder, launching a daring raid on an army barracks in southern Syria, where they reportedly killed more than 30 soldiers.
The rebels boasted that their attacks proved they could strike "anywhere and at any time". (© Daily Telegraph, London)