Rebels in Syria have uploaded video today as evidence that they overran a military checkpoint in Deraa and blew up two high-rise buildings which had flanked an army post.
Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which works with a network of activists across Syria, is quoted in the story from Reuters as saying the fall of the army post was significant.
“Now the army is under threat there. The rebels haven’t liberated all of the old city. There are still two neighborhoods with soldiers, but this could change the balance of power there,” Abdulrahman told Reuters.
The Syrian conflict initially began in Deraa as a peaceful protest movement in March 2011 against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule, according to the account, where civilians marched against forty years of the Assad family power.
An activist called Ammar, speaking by phone, was also quoted:
“This means Deraa’s old city is liberated. It is a big deal for all Syrians: the heart of the revolution has been freed.”
While Reuters states that it cannot independently verify the content of the video, they do state that more than 100,000 people have been killed in Syria since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began in Deraa in March 2011, according to activists from the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
That figure of 100,000 includes 18,000 rebels and 40,000 pro-Assad fighters, according to the Voice of America report, which leaves about 40,000 civilians also dead. Earlier this month, the VOA states, the United Nations believed about 93,000 people were confirmed dead, but that the actual number is probably much higher.
Jordan’s King Abdullah has also been warning the fighting in Syria could develop into a regional sectarian conflict. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Tuesday met with Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal, who stated that the world should not allow Iran and the militant group Hezbollah to prop up Assad’s government, according to the article.
Another report from the Huffington Post states that southeast of Talkalakh, government forces took control of the village of Quarayaten on a highway that links the rebels to another supply route from Iraq, according to the Post’s conversation with an activist who spoke on condition of anonymity “… out of fear for his safety.”
The activist also mentioned that the regime victories seem likely to help it advance on rebel-held areas of the city of Homs.
The United Nations is being urged by the main opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, to help civilians in Talkalakh open routes to facilitate the rescue of women, children, the elderly and the wounded.
Increasingly the fighting takes on sectarian overtones, according to the article, with rebels composed of many Sunni Muslims and Assad’s regime has a majority of Alawites being backed by Hezbollah fighters also, particularly in towns near the Lebanese borders.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi, according to the news, recently lashed out at Saudi Arabia after that country condemned Damascus for enlisting fighters from its Lebanese ally in its struggle with rebels.
The Examiner reported earlier this month that G8 leaders had discussed how the United States wants Assad removed and has promised to arm the rebels, while Russia, the Syrian leader’s main arms supplier, opposes that.