Fierce firefights broke out in Damascus in one of the most violent clashes in the Syrian capital during the year-long crisis in the Arab country. For three hours, machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades hit the heavily-guarded Mezze area of Damascus, home to several security installations, according to witnesses quoted by Reuters.
Monday’s conflict follows earlier bomb blasts in the capital Damascus and in the northern city of Aleppo over the weekend, which combined have killed 29 people and injured 130 others. According to Bassem Mroue of the Associated Press, the opposition is trying to bring the conflict closer to the government’s senior officials, after Assad’s regime’s gains against the rebels in other parts of the country in recent weeks.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jakob Kellenberger, travelled to Russia in an effort to convince Moscow to reach out to Syria for the government to allow humanitarian aid to flow to parts of the country trapped in conflict areas, warning that he expects the humanitarian crisis in Syria to worsen. Also on Monday, a report released by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute says Russia supplied 78% of the weapons to Syria’s government in the last five years, during which Assad’s regime shopped for 580% more guns than previous years. According to the U.N., more than 8,000 people have died in the conflict between anti-government protesters and the regime of Bashar al-Assad, whose family has ruled Syria four more than four decades.