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Rebels begin military operations against Assad forces with attacks in Damascus suburbs

Special to WorldTribune.com

NICOSIA — The rebel movement sworn to oust President Bashar Assad
has expanded operations against the Syrian regime.

The Free Syrian Army said deserters from Assad’s military and security
forces conducted several attacks on regime facilities near Damascus. FSA,
with a haven in Turkey, said the targets struck on Nov. 16 consisted of four
military checkpoints and a base of Syrian Air Force Intelligence in the
suburbs of Damascus. Six soldiers were reported killed.

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Col. Ammar al-Wawi, the commander of the Free Syrian Army’s Ababeel battalion, said: "Our only goal is to liberate Syria from Bashar Assad's regime."

“The [rebel] force is capable of striking them at any place and at any
time we want,” FSA said.

In a statement issued in Beirut, FSA said its fighters, most of
whom were believed to be Syrian Army deserters, employed rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns in the attacks. FSA said the Air Force Intelligence facility was located in the Damascus suburb of Harasta with the checkpoints reported in Arabin, Duma, Qaboun and Saqba.

FSA, commanded by former Syrian Col. Riyad Assad, said the early-morning attacks marked the highest-profile operations since the rebel force was announced in July. FSA has claimed a force of about 20,000 Syrians and said it would escalate the revolt against the Assad regime.

On Nov. 15, the Syrian opposition reported a major attack on an
army-security convoy in the southern province of Dara near the Jordanian
border. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 34 Assad
troops were killed.

The Assad regime has reported an increase in attacks on military and
security forces. Government statements asserted that the rebels were
receiving weapons and tactical communications from Syria’s neighbors.

Arab and Western diplomats have reported an escalation in fighting
between rebels and Assad troops. They said the regime has sustained heavy
losses in clashes between the Sunni insurgents, many of whom were believed
to have been trained in Iraq and Turkey.

On Nov. 15, the Assad regime reported the seizure of a large number of
tactical radios and satellite phones. The official Syrian news agency, Sana,
said the equipment included hand-held communications in the VHF [very high
frequency] and UHF [ultra-high frequency] range.

“The devices operate by wireless scanning of the frequency ranges to
pick up the calls of the security and law enforcement forces and monitor the
movement of their personnel,” Sana reported. “These devices were illegally
infiltrated across the border from Arab countries and foreign countries and
parties in addition to the United States and Israel.”

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